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Thursday, 30 March 2017

KP Repost: Winston Peters: The Man who would be King…………..maker

Ok, so if my previous reposts about National and Labour remained fairly unchanged in their analysis then what I wrote about Peters being kingmaker (and have been repeatedly saying since) may have to be reevaluated in the wake of the recent plunge of NZ Firsts polling (to 8%) and the sharp rise of Maori/Mana (to 4%).
In short the rise of Maori/Mana to 4% gives them enough to go with National (as it currently stands)  to see off not just a Labour/Greens alliance but even one with NZ First in it as well!
The net result would be to reduce Winston and NZ First to nothing. Sure Winston could go into a coalition with National/Maori but they would not have to take him and he would be adding nothing particular to the mix as any seats NZ First has would only bolster the already entrenched National/Maori position.
So if this kind of polling continues its a very different game for Winston to play (and also for the 2017 Election), one where he has only one card left and its a deuce.
Of course all this is predicated on Maori/Mana maintaining its popularity as well as NZ First remaining where it is and we all know how good Winston can be on the campaign trail so I don't expect that lowly 8% to stay as it is because if anyone can claw back his popularity in the polls its him.
That said I do get the sense that this is the last hurrah for Winston, and NZ First. There cant be much left in the tank so to speak and the dynamics of politics has moved on from the days when it was simply a case of whipping up town hall meeting after town hall meeting with his populist magic.
Winston is a product of another age and in this time and space his political style is running on mostly nostalgia not anything which is new or appealing. 
So like a lot of other old bands from back in the day which decide to go out on the road and make a few bucks thrashing out the hits to a room full of grey haired hipsters, all desperately trying to get back their youth, so to is Winston shaking his mojo for almost the exact same grey haired, hipster crowd, and it cant go on for ever (lest he or they throw their hips out).
Therefore, poll shifts notwithstanding, this is likely to be the last run for Winston. The rumors about political mercenary Shane Jones have abounded for over a year (much to the disgust of long serving NZ First 2IC Ron mark) and a good result would likley see Winston cement some sort of legacy in NZ by helping enact a needed shift or following through with his knee jerk political instincts and letting things remain as they are.
Or if the polls remain low then its will be a painful fade away as NZ First looses its ability to decide the fate of NZ and possibly even Northland rejects him.
The key now for Winston is the polls, he not only has to get NZ First back up but also find a way to keep Maori/Mana down and while the first is doable the second is out of his hands. 
Maori/Mana's 4% is a serious threat to Winston and at the end of this such a position might drive him into the arms of Labour and the Greens as the only alternative to cosying up with National is to make a deal with the other side by having enough seats to outdo any National/Maori coalition.
The only thing that remains consistent in all this is that Winston Peters is a survivor. But like Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (one of my favorite movies) its a lonely way to survive and one which leaves no real legacy, just memories. 
It’s been nearly 40 years since Winston Peters first entered parliament as an MP (1978) and over 40 since he entered politics (joining National in 1975).
In that time he has run the gamut of politics many times and held almost every position in government imaginable (MP, party leader, cabinet member, Minister, opposition MP, leader of party with no seats) as well as been investigated (and cleared) by the Serious Fraud Office, censured by parliaments privileges committee and been the recipient of secret donations from wealthy businessmen.
The man was also the instigator of Winebox Inquiry, fought and squabbled with more than one Prime Minister, been exiled from various cabinets, left one political party, formed one of his own and rumored to be the patron saint of one small special branch of a larger government department.
Winston Peters is the James Brown of New Zealand politics: a skilled and dynamic entertainer who always gives good show but is a dictatorial bandleader who overworked and under paid his backing bands (The Tight Five is to Winston as the Famous Flames are to James) all to enhance his own reputation.
To be sure he (Winston not James) is highly entertaining and rarely fails to provide an entertaining quote or attention grabbing headline but the substance of his actions have rarely lived up to his hype (unlike James) and his effect on politics or NZ as a whole (super gold card aside) is divisive at best and possibly toxic at its worst.
But like him or loath him he has survived many of his friends and critics and seen off more than one challenger to his rule of NZ First. At its simplest Winston Peters is a political survivor.
He survived the 2008 blowout of NZ First which saw many write him off only to come back in 2011 (with a respectable 8% in the polls) and then pull off one of the most astounding upsets in New Zealand Politics by not only breaching the walls of National stronghold Northland but taking it convincingly (over 50%) in his first ever time campaigning there.
But what Winston is really known for and what has made him such an enduring figure on the New Zealand political landscape (one littered with wanna-be greats, has-beens and also-rans along with many forgettable politicians and PMs) is the fact that he has been instrumental in maintaining not one, but two minority governments (National in 1996 and Labour in 2005) in their hour of need and in doing so set them up for their later defeat by allowing them to succumb to third term arrogance.
Few who lived through 1996 can forget how heated the election campaign got, the visible anger on Bolgers face during his and Peters famous shouting matches. Winston all but pledged on his mother’s grave that he would never go with National and that it was time for a change and then went with National after nearly two months of protracted negotiations haggling in New Zealand’s first ever MMP election; thereby denying Helen Clark the chance to be the first ever female PM and dooming New Zealand to three more years of the National Governments neo-liberal frenzy of privatization, deregulation and Business Round Table gibberish.
Still the glove was on the other foot when in 2005 Winston was back and this time doing what said he would do nine years earlier, supporting Labour in a collation government. But things had changed as it was now Labour that was struggling to maintain its lead and National under Brash managed to get 39% of the vote and would have been government had Winnie gone with his old alma mater like previously. Instead he backed a grateful Helen, got a swag full of political spoil and set Labour up for the very same fall National got when he supported them in 96.
It’s an interesting counterfactual to consider how things would have been like had Winston gone the other way (Labour in 1996 and National in 2005). Would things have been any different? The persistent and apocryphal myth around Wellington is that in the wake of Nationals disintegration in 99 and the early 2000’s Helen Clark was thankful that Winston had gone with National at the time, only forget the warning of history when she turned to him for support in 05 (and suffered the same fate as Shipley and Co).
You would almost think he had done it just for some sort of kinky thrill and with an election in 2017 looming and NZ First currently holding at 9% in the polls Winston may again be in the position to decide who is in power and who is PM. But the hand of support he offers has proven to be short term political expediency followed by long term electoral toxicity.*
But unlike 1996, 2017 will not see National desperately trying to get a third term or deeply unpopular in the polls (not unless John Key is found out to be an extremely skilled chatbot between now and then) and with no clear pretenders to the throne (Labour in disunity at 28% and Greens at 10% would not be enough to do it alone against National at their current polling of 50%) the key figure under current polling projections is the one, and only, Winston Peters.
But there are some complications in the script which Key and National are sure to try and exploit and one of those likely to get exploited if they are not careful will be Winston Peters.
To start, Winston is genuinely opposed to the Greens and has previously mooted going into coalition govt with them. That means that NZ First would not back a Labour government if the Greens were also part of the package. This leaves Labour with the near impossible task of making up the missing support (getting around 40% of the vote) to enable it to form a government with the Greens if NZ First will not support them.
So if Labour cannot get enough support to jettison the Greens (something they would love to do anyway) and Winston will not come to the party and this leaves him with only two options: stay independent or support National (either in coalition or tacitly) because if Labour cannot form a government then John Key will rule for a fourth term by default.
The only alternative to this scenario is that Winston swallows his pride and decides to go into coalition with Labour and the Greens. This is not an impossible scenario but it’s less likely than him rejecting anything to do with the Greens.
It would be an uneasy alliance at best and possibly way too volatile, given Winston’s track record of grandstanding and political belligerence, to survive for long. The net result of such a coalition collapsing would be an electoral bloodbath as Labour would have blown its golden opportunity to get back into power while National would swoop like rabid wolves on a straggling sheep.
Finally making this all the more toxic is the question of where he is cobbling his votes from. Conventional wisdom would say from National or the undecided middle (Winston is long past having any credible electoral draw on the Left after his betrayal in 96) but I suspect that the rising theme of electoral insurrection in the world today may end up seeing anyone who promises to “smash the pointy headed bastards in the capital” getting increased vote share based purely on their angry rhetoric, push button messaging and opposition stance. Which is a situation tailor made for Winston Peters.
Winston extracted maximum gain for himself in both 96 and 05 but failed to see out a single governmental term in the governments he kept alive (probably because his support was only a superficial fix for deeper structural problems). In 98, after Jenny Shipley ran her noisy coup on Jim Bolger in public (in direct opposition to National Party tradition of keeping the bloodletting behind closed doors), Winston was kicked from cabinet due to endless squabbling with her and promptly took his toys (read support for government) and went home.
In 2005 he was rather quicker in the courtship but wanted a lot more bling to walk down the aisle only to turn out to be a lethal political liability as he was engulfed in various dodgy scandals that left his legacy in tatters (except for the devout worship in the afore mentioned section of government and the horse racing industry which reaped a financial windfall from his tenure as Minister for Racing which continues to this day) and saw NZ First go below the five percent threshold and Winston get driven out of his long term seat of Tauranga.
In the wake of all this many said that it was the end of Winston but he said it was not and vowed to return. And surprise surprise he was right, after a comeback in 2011 he expanded that in 2014 and then stole Northland from National in 2015.
And if the 2017 election rolls around and current polling continues then the man who may decide the outcome will be the same man who previously keep alive two struggling and unpopular governments in the face of calls for change.
Out of such a situation Winston may walk like a phoenix from the fire; the comeback kid and kingmaker again squarely in the middle and ready to decide the fate of NZ. What his price may be and what costs will be borne by the country are yet not known but the man is no fool and he will have gauged the coming mood well (as his electoral Blitzkrieg in Northland showed) and be playing to get maximum gain for himself.
It would be incorrect to label Winston a simple populist (or demagogue) but neither is he a democrat or man of the people. Any benefits accrued by the electorate from his presence in government are mostly secondary to keeping him in politics. He is a one man political brand and when he does decide to get out of the game NZ First will on death watch but NZ politics will be a lot less colorful.

* – I’m not really blaming Winston for the political degradation of both Labour and National in modern times but it makes an interesting hypothesis.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Time to put Andrew Little out to pasture

This post is written in response to a question by a commentator on my post Vamos a obtener estadisticas! which contained the suggestion to Labour to roll Andrew Little while they "still had a chance" which I was working on anyway but now with the latest political poll results (very fortuitously) showing Jacinda Ardern more popular than Andrew Little I am finishing this up today.

None the less the questions posed by the commentator were fair questions and deserve a fair answer more than what I could put in a simple reply.

So Toby, thanks for making me think about what I say and justify what I was saying. This one is for you.

So the latest political poll results have dropped and what do my beady eyes spy?

Jacinda Ardern is now more popular than Andrew Little.

Now pause for a moment and let that sink in, let that really sink in. Has it sunk in yet?

Two months ago Jacinda Ardern was polling 1% as preferred PM and now she is the number two choice for the top political job in this country.

She is now 2% more popular than Andrew Little in just two months. What the heck happened?

But this is not really a surprise, to me at least, because with Little's wilting performance in the polls over the last two years and Labours sluggish inability to make any movement in the polls (until now, which seems to me no coincidence) the public have been waiting for something, anything, to come along and change up the dull flaccidity of Labours poll performance.

So when I advised Labour in my recent post to roll Andrew, and said so late last year, and other times last year (even in my very first blog post) I was reflecting the fact that I see a lot of Labours problems in the last two years being down to Andrew Little, not all maybe but a big part of them.

Sure Little was some stability after the ongoing leadership shuffle of Goff, Cunliffe and Shearer  but it was never a comfortable fit and Little never looked comfortable in the role and what followed after his highly contested election was two years of inertia and dismal polling while John Key showed how a popular leader can cover for a party full of misfits and monsters and a government agenda selling the country out left, right and center.

So I have been politely asking that it be "anyone but Little" for 12 months now in the Labour camp but for 24 grinding months no candidate was able to register on the public radar as a replacement for Captain Mediocrity; until now.

And now we have that candidate in the rapidly rising star of Jacinda Ardern.

Now the questioned posed to me by Toby were as follows:

1) Who will replace him (Andrew)?
2) What will they do different?
3) How would the public respond?

So to answer 1) we already have that potential new leader, newly minted as deputy and for 3) we also have that response but for 2) the answer still lingers.

But I am being slightly facetious here as Jacinda has not replaced Andrew yet and there is no clear dynamic for Andrew to be replaced also Jacinda has famously said she does not have that ambition and is just happy to be there, yeah right!

Also unless Andrew decided to go quietly the public will probably not want to see the disgusting shenanigans of a bloody power grab six months out from a general election or the hysterical schism such a thing would create in the party, as the champagne socialists face off against the rabid unionists on the rapidly tilting rear deck of the bad ship Labour, as it sinks beneath the waves.

It would be in effect be handing National the election and turning a potential change of government into another three years of National.

Also the full public response is not encapsulated in one 9% polling but the rapid shift over two months from 1% to 9% does show how easy it is to get the public excited about the idea of change in Labours Leadership, it shows that even the hint of someone else, anyone else (perhaps even someone who reminds voters of the last female Labour leader) is more than enough to send their polling shooting skyward.

But lets focus on 2) for a moment, what would Jacinda, or any new Labour leader six months out from an election, do differently?

Well for a start she might not have to do anything different if her own popularity does actually translate into comparable popularity in the party polls and we don't have have any correlation between Jacindas rise and Labours 2%-3% recent rise in the polls at this time but if there was anything that John Key showed kiwi Pol Sci students and journalists was that a popular leader can pump up a party's popularity no matter how cruddy the party is (Bill English are you listening?).

Then again if Jacinda was to ascend to the throne in some sort of bloodless coup who knows what she might do or what currently dormant policies and plans Labour has hidden away that may be released from bondage.

The answer to that question is not really answerable until she does it but if there was anything which has stood out about Jacinda was her attempts to build solid bridges with both The Greens and TOP in the recent by-election which did seem by warm and fuzzy but compared to Andrew Little's recent moments with Willie Jackson and the ensuing fallout from that strikes me as a very different approach to anything Little would do.

So at this time there is lots of potential but it will not happen unless Andrew Little realizes that he could lead Labour into the coming election and even win it but nothing but a clear and absolute victory in September is going to remove the nagging doubts about him and in a hung or tight parliament such a weak leader would be helpless to fight off any pretenders that decided to make their moves.

Imagine, Labour wins the election by one or two seats and finds itself with the supply and confidence agreement from hell as its either NZ First and Winston's septuagenarian ego on its last glory ride or a newly enfranchised Maori party willing to drive all manner of devils bargains on Labour.

Its not quite the nightmare scenario but its close and chaos that would follow, as all the spirits of 96 rise up and start haunting the Beehive, would probably lead to a hung parliament, a snap election or worse as one of the support parties gets in a huff, takes their toys and goes over to play with National.

So Little has to go BUT it has to be bloodless. Little has to see this as inevitable, and with his deputy more popular than him, he might even be doing that, specially if these number keep on as they are or even worse hers go up and his go down.

But politics is not the domain of the rational, and fragile and inflated egos always come into it.

Also political popularity polls are the purest form of public endorsement outside of an actual election so Little has to not only notice these but also acknowledge them.

What he, or his ego, might not acknowledge, is the good of the party over the good of himself and if that happens it will be the slow, painful and inevitable rise of tension as the election approaches and the leader of the opposition is less popular than his deputy, and how will that look come the leadership debates?

Such a situation would be handing all other parties a club to beat both Labour and Andrew Little with while doing nothing but sharpen the hunger of Jacinda and the disaffected grumblers in the ranks.

Then when Labour looses a close election, a legion of fingers will be pointed at Andrew Little and the "what could have been's" will start and Andrew Little's political career will be as good as dead (if it is not already).

So we can be humane about this and leave the gate open and hope he will wander off himself to that great back paddock in the sky or we will have to be strong about things and take him out behind the milk-shed.

The matter is, in essence, that party leadership (or the leader) can and does have an effect of the fortunes of the party itself and if there is disconnect it can effect both, as Andrew Little and Labour have found out.

Of course I fully admit that if Jacinda was to somehow ascend, bloodlessly to the throne she could turn out to be a non starter and Labour could still get beaten like a gong in the election due to a resurgent National, Jacinda just not having enough mojo to make it over the distance or the complexities of coalition politics coming to the fore and swamping Labours electoral hopes and dreams in one big wave of disappointment.

Also, I am sure that there are other in Labour who would love to see Little out and themselves running the show so just because its Jacinda now it might not be later, but that's for another post.

I don't expect a lot of people will be ready to agree with me but I believe that my political neutrality (if you consider the view that all politicians are equally untrustworthy scum as "neutral") helps me see this for what it really is (and has done for over a year). Nonetheless, those who wish to say I am wrong (and who knows they may be right), feel free to say so in the comments.

Statistical Update! The King(maker) is dead! Long live the Queen!

Typical, the day I put out a post on the latest political polling in New Zealand Colmar Brunton has to go an release a brand new poll: just to skew my numbers I suspect.

OK, so I need to update my figures for the last post, not all of them but a few things have changed significantly.

And those significant changes are:

Say Hello to Leadership Crisis x 2!

Jacinda Ardern (9%) is now more popular than Andrew Little (7%) as preferred PM. Just last month Jacinda was 4% but 30 days later she shoots up 5% while Andrew has not changed.

Putting that into perspective the second most popular person for PM is now Jacinda Ardern where two months ago she was 1%. Holly molly!

Meanwhile Bill English sheds 5% to now sit at 26% which when compared to his predecessors popularity is shockingly bad. Bill will be certainly starting to worry (and look over his shoulder) now as his popularity evaporates.Eeeeeeeeek!

Say hello to our new Kingmaker.

But the most interesting changes are the rise of the Maori Party to 4% (up 2%) and the decline of New Zealand First to 8% (down 3%).

The rest of the numbers for the major party's numbers have not changed with National still on 46%, Labour on 30% and the Greens still on 11%.

Which in the coalition game leads us to the following:

National/Maori - 50%
Labour/Greens - 41%

So even if NZ First throws its support in behind Labour and The Greens it wont be enough, at best it will be a close (but no cigar) 49%.  

And now NZ First may have to start thinking about how to whats next on the campaign trail with the coming election while the Maori Party have the power to keep National in power which unless changed means that the long held kingmaker position of NZ First has been cut out from under him.

So I think we could call these game changing developments and I will be commenting on the Labour leadership situation in my next post.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Vamos a obtener estadisticas!

My normal weekend routine is a mundane mix of looking after children, doing household chores and gardening with some martial arts training thrown in for flavor but this weekend its wet and I am at a loose end so what better way to spend the time than pouring over the latest political polling data right, right?*

Ok so maybe not but the latest data has some rather juicy little nuggets buried within and after reading I think its worthy enough to post about it.

First up its the sources of that data and we have the latest polling from Roy Morgan (dated 17 March) and some slightly older data from Colmar Brunton (covering the period 11-15 February) to digest. Whats interesting is the Colmar Brunton data is pre-National's superannuation announcement and the Roy Morgan is post and while they are two different polls, so the results would not ever be identical, its still its interesting to have results from both before and after.

Party Popularity

The main party popularity from Colmar Brunton are as follows:

National at 46% (down 4%)
Labour at 30% (up 2%)
Greens at 11% (no change)
NZF at 11% (up 1%)
ACT at 1% (up 1%)
Maori at 1% (no change)

no other party had any significant polling.

The main results from Roy Morgan are:

National at 43.5% (Down 4.5%)
Labour at 29.5 (up 3.5%)
Greens at 14.5% (up 1.5%)
NZF at 7.5% (down 1.5%)
ACT at 0.5% (down 0.5%)
Maori at 2% (no change)

All the rest no significant polling.

Now the Colmar Brunton has about 1000 people polled with a +/- 3.1% margin or error while Roy Morgan polled 847 people and some fancy chart to explain things but in the end seems to come out at +/- 3.2% for the MoE and for those interested in my breakdown of NZ political poling see my old post from KP here.

My own take on these polls is that the Colmar Brunton is usually more conservative (if possibly pro National given its done on behalf of TV1) while the Roy Morgan is a bit more wild in its take (possibly due to its smaller sample size but also as its an offshore poll and not subject to the same constraints that NZ polls are (see my KP post for the details on that) and as such less accurate.

So like the nice people over at Kiwiblog who just take the Curia Public poll average and be done with it I tend to balance the results out a bit and instead of the raw numbers look for  the movements in the numbers themselves.

So what are these numbers telling us?

The most obvious is the clear and noted shift in both polls for National going down and Labour going up while the other parties have various ups, downs or no change.

Next is the fact that for the first time in a long time a Labour/Greens coalition is above National in the Roy Morgan poll (even if only by 1%) while closing on National in the Colmar poll but still out by 5%.

So as always that leaves us with the inevitable question who will New Zealand First support because in neither poll will ACT or the Maori party have enough seats to cover the deficit and as such Winston is back as kingmaker (as he has been for a long time).

So nothing really new there but the downward trend of National and the upward of Labour show that there is a shift going on.

Whats causing this I think are a combination of Labour having two good by-elections recently, the promotion of Jacinda Arden to deputy to Andrew Little in Labour (more on that in a moment) and English & Co dropping the ball by pissing off the public with a string of ham fisted media blunders (water, superannuation and Bill English's drug problem) and probably not going to be helped come next poll by the Hit and Run scandal.

But one of those afore mentioned juicy little poll nuggets is the 15% undecided on the Colmar Brunton poll (down 1% from previous) which as always leaves a rather large pool of potential voters out there who have not made up their mind but will wait to see which way the wind blows come election day.

Preferred Leader

Then its onto Colmar's preferred PM section which provides a rather interesting slice of not just who is being seen as PM material but who is also even registering on the public radar.

And the number for preferred PM are:

Bill "why are'nt you John Key" English at 31% (no previous recent polling)
Winston "lets make a deal" Peters at 8% (steady)
Andrew "see you in court" Little at 7% (down 1%)
Jacinda "no eyes on the leadership, honest" Arden at 4% (up 3%)
John "see you later suckers" Key at 2% (down 34%)
Metira "ho hum" Turei at 2% (up 1%)
Gareth "what me worry" Morgan at 0.1% (no change)
Helen "not eastern European" Clark at 0.3%
Dont know at 36% (up 2%)
None at 4% (up2%)

Now I took only what was interesting from a long list of names here but what stands out is the following:

Bill English is less popular than John Key just last month (36%) which is a terrible start and shows that the public mood for Bill is not what it was for John which is not exactly shocking but has now been tabulated for all to see.

What is shocking is how far John Key fell in short order (down to 2% from 36%) as it shows that without the media exposure that kept Key oxygenated it has rapidly faded from public consciousness (as I predicted he would).

And for those wondering how drastic this is its worth noting that the current poll includes Helen Clark still polling at 0.3% which is only 0.1% behind Judith Collins (on 0.4%) which shows just how strong the cult of Clark really is that even nine years after she left the office she can still register on the poll and only just behind a known aspirant for the throne (Collins) which shows just how unlikely it is that Judith Collins will ever get the job because no secret National leadership cabal in its smoky back room right mind will ever let such a low polling misanthrope anywhere near the throne.

Interesting but not surprising is seeing Jacinda Ardern move up to the number four spot from the ranks of the dispossessed where most other MPs live to be within striking distance of Andrew Little who must be starting to feel very very nervous at the moment as his popularity stats since he took the job have tracked steadily down from his high in 2015 (where he was on par with contemporaries like Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe) down into a space where he is now polling below Winston Peters.

Normally I would say make of this what you will but in these heady days I would say that this is just another nail in Little's coffin as the sound of blades being drawn across whetstones becomes just that bit more audible as that rift in the Labour party does not go away just because no one is talking about it and Arderns one win in Mt Rokslill was enough to oust Annette King (currently polling on 0.6% but previously 0.2%) and get her the number two spot.

So in this vein I fall back on my previous advice to the Labour party: roll Andrew Little now while you still have a chance!

But the mind blowing stat of them all on this chart is the 36% undecided which when added to the 4% none and 1% refused leaves a walloping 41% of the voting populcae who is not into the politics of personality or simply cant make up their minds on which mutant to pick.

And while the don't know number has generally been high across previous polls (27% to 34%) it has been steadily rising since September 2016 which may provide some clues to why John Key did decide to leave (if your not buying the "he was pushed" argument) as it shows Key gently trending downwards while the undecided goes up.

What rings out loud and clear from all these numbers is that the age of Key is over, no ifs or buts about it and Bill English has inherited a solid poll lead but its an established position (being popular as PM) and his previous polling (0.1, 0.9 and 0.4 from mid 2016) show that he was on nobodies radar for running the show should Key suddenly decide to throw in the towel or get rolled by an insider clique wanting to regain control of the party in what I would term a "right wing Jeremy Corbyn" coup.

Of course there is room to massage the stats all sorts of ways given that most personalities in NZ politics resonate with the public as about as much as or less than a cast member from Shortland Street but its telling what the current shifts show as its clear that the mood for anyone of the current crop is open to debate and most positions are as easy go as they are easy come (as Jacinda could soon find out once the honeymoon is over.

The Issues

So at this point the polls have given some info on the parties and the personalities but what about the issues?

Good question unmedicated voice in my head, I am glad you asked as both polls have brought their own take on the mood of the nation on what is hot and what is not.

Roy Morgan gives the goods on what direction the country seems to be moving in and confidence in government with numbers of 61% for the right direction and 25% for the wrong direction is close to a three year high so maybe the housing hernia is having some sort of perverse effect on the mood of the populace because the Colmar Brunton poll shows that the number one issue in this country at this time is the dear ol housing hernia at 27%; with education at 20% and the economy at 16% for the top three followed by health, the environment and immigration coming immediately after (at 15%, 9% and 9% respectively).

And Roy Morgans handy chart of the government confidence rating is also worth viewing as from the heady highs of 2008 to the slump of 2012 to the partial revival in 2015 to a recent jump overt the last few months (from what was a rather gloomy mood for most of 2015 and 2016) we can see that National have never recovered from the euphoria of things in 2008 when they won.

It is also worth noting, to be fair to National, that while they are down they have been consistently higher than Labour was when they took office (with govt confidence under Labour polling well below anything National has ever achieved).

Thus while correlation is not causation its is interesting to see those two stats sat side by side.

Also interesting is seeing education polling as the number two issue while the least important issues on voters minds are things like euthanasia, foreign investment and drugs all at 1% each while Maori issues, water quality, refugees, disasters and defense all polling in the "less than 1%" category which can also be known as the "who gives a s**t!" category.

But again what stands out is not what is an issue to people but how many people stated "don't know" or "other" on their polls which were 21% and 4% respectively meaning that 25% of the population has its mind somewhere else and I would really like to know where (any suggestions would be appreciated).

And if that were not enough Colmar Brunton poll drops its take on the issues when compared to voter blocks which provides an interesting slice of who is thinking about what, thus we learn:

- Housing issues resonate with middle aged Labour voters making over 100K a year
- Education resonates with middle aged pakeha women
- The economy resonates with male National supporters over 55
- young people aged between 18-34 (31%) don't know what the issues are

Be happy, be sad, be concerned, be confused by those numbers because that while people do have important issueson their minds at heart there is a very black gulf in those early and new voters, which like a lot of the other null stats that has been listed, shows that there is a solid core of the NZ public to which politics or any issue related to it does not resonate and where there are solid political cores of older voters who (like in the UK with Brexit) may end up dominating the issues and the election outcome.

So these are the stats and as a whole its shows, what I belive, are three things.

The first is the clear sign of third-termitis for National in government, which was cleverly hidden by John Key's dark arts but with him gone are now exposed like the scaly belly of a dragon.

The second is the definite potential for this election to have outcomes like the the US, the UK or elsewhere with big chunks of voter apathy, populist candidates rising and the near certain situation of a hung or paralyzed parliament if Winston does not kick his support in behind one vote block or another.

The last is that potential election issues are definitely coalescing around things like housing and education but there is still room for things like water issues (under the broader banner of the environment) to come in hard on the electorates consciousness or for things like the SAS/NZDF scandal to add some murk to the proceedings.

NZ politics in NZ has a curious dynamic in that the issues don't create the fire that can often be seen elsewhere but because kwi's are a passionless lot, we can let things slide for far too long before we wake up with the light of oncoming oblivion shining in our eyes (and its horn blaring in our ears) and only seconds to yank the wheel hard to the left to get back in the right lane.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I know I will.

*-Oh I will be having some drinks and getting my boogie on later tonight but I probably could make better use of the time today.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

So Long You Dark Prince You!

So he is finally gone.

I have said a lot about John Key in the one year I have been blogging.

One of those reason was that Key constituted the only effective part of the right wing of NZ politics but there were others.

In Bland Eyed Soul: Analyzing Brand Key I wrote about what made Key so popular from the perspective of advertising and predicted that outside of politics he would rapidly shrink from the public consciousness which has happened with his current polling as preferred PM dropping to 2% in the latest polling*.

In History will not absolve you! I took Key to task for his defense of Tony Blair's involvement of the UK in the Iraq war which has some resonance at the moment with the current scrutiny of the SAS in Afghanistan and speculation that Jerry Brownlee (the Brown Eminence) may be increasing NZ's involvement in Iraq.

 And in Craig, Key and Brash: Out of date, out of time and out of touch! I pointed out Key's glib verbal avoidance of any issue afflicting NZ which he was able to get away with while his successors English & Co have not been able to do (as evidence by English's recent plunge in the polls).

Finally we have my recent re-post from KP about how John Key was the heart and soul of the National party and the wake of his passing how doomed the party was (something  which is slowly coming to pass as the the mood of the public switches against the party).

So there is really not much more to say on the man except say thanks.

So thanks John Key, thanks for the housing hernia and unaffordable houses prices; thanks for making New Zealand into a tax haven, thanks for pumping up dirty dairy and polluted waterways; thanks for rape jokes and pulling pigtails; thanks for Dirty Politics and The Hollow Men; thanks for selling citizenship to the ultra rich; thanks for entrenched poverty and homelessness; thanks for allowing your dodgy minions soil the country at will; thanks for bowing to Hollywood interests (both to get films made here but also for leasing the intelligence services out to the FBI to enforce US copy rights); thanks for inflicting your family (mostly your son) on the public; thanks for the pointless flag debate as a means of distracting public attention (when there were so many other issues which needed fixing); thanks for keeping ACT in Epsom; thanks for charter schools and fight clubs in prison; thanks for saying you knew nothing every time you were asked a difficult question; thanks for the other crappy things you have done and thanks for leaving the country worse than when you found it.

You were a slick talking snake oil salesman who served your masters well and sure to be rewarded but you were a cancer on this country and wont be missed.

So farewell you dark prince, farewell.

*- And before anyone says that's because he is not PM just because he is not PM does not mean he still cant be seen by the public as being the preferred or popular choice for PM, as Helen Clark demonstrated for more than a few polls after she left.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Waiting for the medicine

This post is about something not normally discussed in politics in New Zealand but really should be.

Amid all the hubbub and rhetoric, all the hate and vitriol, all the policy and propaganda that makes up the normal political discourse; little time is given to discussing what we as a nation want to be, where we want to go and what ideals do we want to make the pillars of our society (as well as what ones do we wish to cast down or denigrate).

What got me thinking about this was the recent (and ongoing) issue of National deciding to raise the superannuation age from 65 to 67.

What I heard amid all of the statistical double talk coming out of the mouth of Bill English, and Treasury, was the simple and repeated phrase of "we cant afford it!"

And if you look at it from a pure numbers perspective, maybe he is right. Maybe.

Maybe we as a nation cant afford it, maybe will will just have to tighten out belts and cut costs and make savings.

Then again maybe not.

The reason I am writing this is because I reject outright any argument or position about what we as a nation wish to be which is based on numbers first and foremost and I will tell you why (or why else would I be blogging?).

First and foremost such an argument, as is being made by English and National, seems suspiciously aligned with the kind of Neo-Liberal thinking which has infected parties like National, and ACT, where the hidden agenda is always about enriching one small group at the bitter expense of all the rest.

Of course under John Key, that agenda was always carefully hidden away behind layers of careful spin and even Keys own antics served to distract from the gradual erosion of the welfare state which has been built up in Godzone over the last 100 years.

And the greatest piece of spin Key ever embarked on was his unequivocal promise to not raise the retirement age which not only neutralized populists like Winston Peters (who counts retirees, and soon to be retirees as a large chunk of his core vote base) but also poured oil on one of the most contentious issues in western politics today (that of an aging population).

So unequivocal was it that he tied it to his position as Prime minister by promising to step down if it ever went up on his watch.

And so for nearly nine years that issue was swept under the rug and anyone approaching retirement breathed a sigh of relief and went back to sleep.

Now with Key gone and English and Co slavering like vampires at the blood bank, one of the first big announcements (apart from muddying the waters around the muddy (and toxic) water issue) was that come 2040 the retirement age will go up to 47 and to announce it in a manner that seems suspiciously like pushing so far into the future that it will not factor as an issue in the coming election (even the Retirement Commission report said 2034).

But again the rational repeated by English and others again and again (and again for this and other issues) is that we simply cant afford it and here is a raft of tables, charts and graphs to show how we cant afford it.

Such an approach has been used by National before to say we don't need as many police (although that changed once things started getting out of hand and suddenly there was extra money, for the next four years at least, to get more cops back on the front line), to keep public service salaries down (although MPs get that pay rise every year adjusted for inflation and backdated regular as clockwork), to keep the minimum wage below the living wage (because keeping businesses happy is more important than people being able to live off the money they make), to sell of state housing stock, to reduce what goes to beneficiaries and to justifying almost anything done under their watch which has seen things get just that little bit harder, more expensive or difficult to achieve for the majority.

But even if English is not just an ideological puppet and we really can't afford to keep the retirement age at 65 what else as a nation cant we afford?

Can we afford to watch our nation slide into poverty or casually gaze around as significant chunks of our population (I am thinking principally about Maori here but this could apply to anyone) suffer disproportionately across a range of health and social statistics while a small minority sleep well in their beds and keep on running things for the benefit of themselves only.

Can afford to piss away the cleanliness of our water or leave our economy desperately dependent on things like tourism and dairy products?

Can we afford a parliament full of long serving (and mostly useless) politicians who have become so divorced from reality, due to their well paying positions by which they insulate themselves from the effects of their policies and decisions and allow themselves to become slaves to various bunk ideologies?

And once questions like that start they do not stop, they go on forever until madness ensues because such unfocused examination of our nation and its direction atomizes the issues down to a series of fragments which sometimes fit into the bigger puzzle but often get swept away in the next batch of change that politics and the media spews on us and always leaves us coming up short so that we eventually throw our hands in the air and decide to leave it to the "experts" or (shudder) the politicians.

But whats not being usually discussed or questioned is the bigger picture to which all these fragments contribute; that of "what kind of nation do we want to be"?

Listen to a parliamentary debate, read the paper, watch the TV news or just engage in a vaguely political discussion and see how quickly the dialog get swamped in the details while the guiding principles get ignored.

Many people mock the US of A for having a document like the Constitution which sets out clear ideals to which they as nation want to aspire to but which currently seem to be slipping form their grasp but at least they have something to which they can say they are basing their society on, what doe we have in New Zealand?

For one we have the Treaty of Waitangi, but that in and of itself does not seem to be enough to keep us on course as the debate has not always been one which parties can agree on or which clearly sets out goals for our future but rather sets in place the idea of two parties working together towards something greater but where that "something" has not been clearly defined.

So do we want to be a country slipping downwards in the race to the bottom or do we want to be a nation which is going to hold up certain ideas and ideals as being sacred and worth keeping?

NZ was a country that enshrined a strong egalitarian streak which shone through in all manner of ways from being the first country to give women the vote; to affordable state housing; to a social welfare system which worked (not to mention things like ACC); to how we used to regulate alcohol and gambling (with most of the profits generated going back to the community) to all manner of systems, rules and laws which make us (although for how much longer?) a country which is seen as one of the least corrupt in the world and a host of other little things which made New Zealand what it was and is.

And behind all those things was a serious and robust discussion about what we as a nation wanted (not what we could afford) and how we could achieve that. Its no accident that the egalitarian (and yes socialist) ideals which helped build or nation were articulated broadly across all spectrum of New Zealand because if we wanted it, we found a way to afford it.

Some might say that such ideals without sound consideration of the costs is madness and they are right in the small sense that reality must always be considered but not as the primary or only determinant of our direction because that way leads to a group of "nice" people sitting around a table deciding what to do with their countries surplus population.

And I am sure that tucked away in dark corner of the National party (probably copied from ACT) is a "nice" Treasury style power point about how democracy is too damn expensive and we should just scrap it so we can balance the budget and grow the economy 4.3% in the next four quarters.

Democracy, freedom and a just and equitable society don't come cheap, they cost, and sometimes they cost a lot more than the budget says we can afford but once you sell them off or privatize them its very hard to get them back and the balance sheet might look better but everything else wont as it is easy to glance around the world today at nations where such things as egalitarianism, just laws and a free society are not in abundance and grok how unappealing those nations appear when compared to those which do make those things a priority.

So when Bill English says "we cant afford it" what he is really saying is "I* don't want to pay for it" that reflects a societal view which is moving away from a nation built for all and governed by principles greater than the balance sheet and one just for those individuals able to grab what they can at the expense of anyone else (and consequences be dammed!).

Lets have a discussion. Lets ask ourselves what kind of New Zealand we want to be. Lets divorce it from the politics of the left and right and decide if we want to be a Nation which people are flocking to or one which people are fleeing from because right now Aotearoa is still an appealing place where people do flock to (from creepy US Billionaires buying citizenship to Syrian refugees fleeing the war zone that their nation has become), but for how much longer?

Of course all I have just written sounds like the kind of idealistic rot which you would expect from someone with their head in the clouds, someone divorced from reality, just thinking pie in the sky and all I need is a solid does of reality to wake me up but you would be wrong.

John Ralston Sual (my favorite philosopher) in his book On Equilibrium listed the five qualities most important for an effective society and economics is not among those things (although he does note rationality which could be considered the seed of economic thought).

What he lists as qualities or virtues which are important to a healthy society are common sense; ethics; imagination; intuition; memory and reason and that these are of equal and universal value for a society if it is not to be captured by one, or a few qualities (or their dark disciples) that have morphed into dangerous ideologies (and their respective ideologues).

And that is why the whole manner of the superannuation announcement sits rather badly with me.

Its not about bashing National or supporting Labour. Its about the fact that Bill English has made a choice which reflects one single consideration or quality and where all others have been ignored and where the manner of the announcement, when viewed inline with Nationals broader goals and direction, indicates that the figures, graphs and tables being touted as the basis for Nationals argument is really just buttressing an ideological position that needs justification rather than Bill English thinking about the actual well being of New Zealand as a whole.

So yes lets discuss the superannuation situation but lets also discuss the direction that we want to take as a Nation (and the values related to that direction) and lets also keep in mind that facts graphs, tables and charts as the basis of forecasts for the future are subject to the same kind of factors and considerations that Thomas Malthus failed to account for in 1789 when he predicted that the world would be overpopulated and starving in short order (by ignoring improvements in food production and other things which killed his prediction that population growth would outstrip food production).

So my question to you is whats the cost of an egalitarian and just society, and do you want to live in one?

*-As well as his political party and its backers.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

KP Repost: I may be bad but I feel good! – John Key and the mystery of the National Party

This was my second ever post on KP and a direct response to my first where some people had accused me of shilling for National by pointing out the issues in Labour.

As for the post itself not much has changed except one teeny tiny thing: John Key is no longer PM.

Of course I am being facetious as a lot has changed in some ways and in others nothing has changed.

Obviously Key leaving is a a big thing and the fact that he left out of the blue shows that even with victory in sight in 2017 it was not enough for him to stay. So he went and National almost immediately lurched to the Right as soon as summer recess was over.

The things that have not changed are those minions he left behind. 

English is back on the throne for now and all the rest now sit around the cabinet table and pretend its the same as it was when Johnny Boy was calling the shots but its not.

Between when I first posted this and now we have also had the Serco/Fight Club Scandal, The MPI scandal, The Panama Papers scandal, The SFO investigation into corruption in CERA scandal (didn't her about that one: Google is your friend), Clean water issues, Superannuation and a whole lot more of other niggles which are going to come back to haunt National come election day.

The two most pertinent points in this post are a) Who will swing the club that all Nationals bad behavior has given to the opposition; and b) the levels of public indifference and apathy which were mollified by Key for so long which are now starting to show signs of coming to the boil.

And these two factors are inextricably linked as public apathy remains a factor as long as the opposition is seen as not being willing (or able) to swing the club against the shambling Zombie that National has reverted back to.

And if you want to see what the future of National is without Key go read Nicky Hagar's - The Hollow Men to get an idea of whats around the corner, as Nationals sudden right wing lurch is starting to reveal.

So If Labour is a party devoid of any real personality and seemingly unable to gather momentum, even when it needs to, for the 2017 election then National is a party full of grotesque personalities which are toxic to the party and its survival but who, like all good parasites, will kill the host before they cease doing what they do.

Key's mana still sustains English and Co but not for long, the cracks are already starting to show and rot within is oozing out as the family friendly centrist glamour that Key draped over party is now fading and the ugly beasts and creepy minds that infest it are starting to be, once again like in 1999, be revealed.
I got bagged last week by some who knew me and read my post about Andrew Little and Labour as I appeared to them (and not all of them would fit into the mold of Left or Liberal) as a closet or crypto sympathizer for National and John Key and all they stand for.

This of course would be far from the truth, as on the political spectrum, I consider myself a fascist anarchist and in no way supportive of National. But as I said last week I am no fan of Labour but some took my last post as a clear vote for the Senor Key and Co. So to keep the karmic balance this post will peel away the blue on National corpse and see what lies underneath (I was planning to write about the security services in NZ but c’est la vie).

The difference between my analysis of Labour and National is that while my focus on Labour was on the failures of the party over the failures of individuals, National is the opposite it’s the failures of individuals that dominates the party and has done so for over a decade now.

To start John Key has been very successful as a politician, so successful in fact that it would be easier to call National the “John Key Party” than refer to them as National. But Keys success as Politician has come at a cost, to both himself and the John Key Party.

Firstly Keys success as politician does not translate well into actual leadership, legacy or being remembered as PM. The multitude of screw ups, gaffs, scandals, dodgy behavior, greedy and corrupt behavior by Keys minions is legion which shows that despite his high polling he has been unable to keep his employees from running amok when his eyes are not directly on them.

This is because that Key has his own version of the Fuhrerprinzip (leadership principle) in play here. He may not have started out as the dictator of National but as the success of the party rests entirely on his ongoing popularity it’s become his show and his show only and much like other dictators Key keeps those under him busy squabbling for power so that they don’t have time to unite against him or do too much damage.

Unfortunately political golems that comprise the party, such as the reptilian Judith Collins, failed Wagnerian/Faustian Jerry Brownlee and power hungry Steven Joyce, feature regularly in the press but rarely for good reasons.

Collins misdeeds are numerous and not even worth mentioning here except that it’s clear that Key brought her back into cabinet after the scandal of Dirty Politics and who she was dining with in China under the old adage of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. The smiling assassin wants to see the blade coming and by keeping Collins on a short leash and continuing to utilize her attack dog qualities he keeps her occupied and not with no further time to plot his overthrow, as had been rumored.

Brownlee also has been a useful tool to Key as flak catcher for the growing disquiet around the Christchurch Rebuild (nepotism, shoddy work practices and questionable dealings) but Brownlee is really known for little but his escapades in the media where he tried to start a war with Finland, Flouted Civil Aviation Authority rules and has demonstrated that his mouth is not connected to his brain. Also his placement as Minister of Defense, while seeming important, is actually a demotion to a backwater government department as a way of keeping him busy and out of trouble (much in the same vein that Murray Mcully’s appointment to the Foreign Affairs kept him out of the way by keeping him out of the country as much as possible) with all those “important” meetings overseas.

Meanwhile Steven Joyce oversaw his Frankenstein creation of MBIE (among other misdeeds), cobbling together disparate ministries and sections of government into an unholy (and unworkable) creation, staffed at senior levels with barely competent DCEs and then jammed into a chicken coop of a building complete with opulent surrounds at taxpayer expense. It was a power grab pure and simple and much in the vein of the SS in Germany capturing police and security functions under the banner of “centralization” but it’s become a bloated sagging beast with a toxic work culture and extremely high union membership.

But it’s not only the senior ministers that have appeared in the media as creatures that you’d rather not sit next to on the bus. Arron Gilmore will be forever remembered as for his arrogant outburst regarding who he was in regards to his membership in the John Key Party and current troubles with Todd Barclay’s staff show that the newer members of the party won’t be lax when it comes to acting like they are to the manor born.

And these are just examples that I am pulling off the top of my head. There are so many more that it does seem at times that the New Zealand political press are running a concerted campaign to discredit the Senor Key Party by publishing only the bad news but the truth is that the behavior of the members of the party has long been grossly out of touch with expected standards of decency and behavior. The short lived political career of Pansy Wong springs to mind or the highly inappropriate behavior of Maurice Williamson in calling the police when a rich “friend” was in trouble for are just a few more that freely spring to mind.

But there is a method to my madness in cataloging these examples of nether-spawn here and it’s to place the popularity of Key in clear contrast to the Party (and its dismal inhabitants) he fronts.

Key is the Golden Boy, popular in the polls and able to appear in public during daylight hours. But the shadow he casts is long and dark and it’s in the darkness that things grow and thrive, things which cannot go into the light lest they die from exposure.

This is a tale of horror and dark deeds, of human sacrifice and blood, of a pact with demons, a deal with the devil.

Our tale begins in 1999, after nine years in government (and the last three at the behest of Winston Peters) Jenny Shipley (now being sued as a former director of Mainzeal) steered the party onto the rocks of Defeat and Helen Clark led Labour into power. Nationals performance in 1999 was dismal but was nothing to the beating it got in 2002 (20%; it’s lowest ever election result and a nadir even lower than anything achieved by Labour at the polls).

Then several strange things happened but to sum it up simply the party was taken over/bought out in aggressive coup by right-wing interests fronted by Don Brash and the Business Roundtable (Now known as the New Zealand Initiative in an attempt to re-brand its tarnished image). Bill English (possibly the last real link to National of the past times) was sacrificed publicly and painfully on the altar of political convenience and John Key entered the party (or if rumors are to be believed he was aggressively recruited due to his wealth and connections).

Weather Brash had sold his soul to get the leadership or was a patsy may never be known but it’s around this time that the remaining country elements of the party were being cleared out and put off to pasture (no pun intended). Dark words and incantations had been whispered and evil things summoned and now the life that flowed through the party was no human blood but a mix of money, religion and spin.

Shortly after Brash self-destructed in an orgy of greasy stories about his sex life and revelations from Nicky Hagar’s Hollow Men showed that the party was not only beholden to larger business interests but also rapidly becoming a vehicle for money and religion in ways that mirror the strange nexus of religion and power in US evangelicals. Stepping into the breach in 2006 at this time was John Key and the party’s fortunes mysteriously began to rise (to be fair Brash’s infamous Orewa speech had helped to raise the party’s fortunes but his own personal culpability was still poison to the party).

And rise they have but only in relation to Keys personal popularity and when he falls the party will fall with him.

By listing only some of the stains found on the scaly carcass of the party it’s clear that the John Key Party is not only wholly corrupt but incapable of behaving in any manner that requires honesty, decency or integrity and that without the magic of John Key National would have either self-destructed (ala Labour with endless power struggles and coup attempts) or faded into electoral irrelevance by now.

So what’s the plan in the post Key environment for the misanthropes of National? Which of the shambling horrors currently prowling the halls of the Beehive would the average Kiwi voter go for?

The first (and only) name that springs to my mind is Simon Powers. He was being groomed for the role by being chief whip and had the looks, and ability to speak without putting his foot in his mouth but Powers left after two terms (perhaps sensing the poison in the chalice being offered to him) for greener pastures (Run Simon, run!).

Other than that it’s difficult if not impossible to imagine anyone of the current crop of National MPs now sitting at the top level being able to either lead the party without its descending into a hellish power struggle or elicit any positive reaction in the polls to the grotesque suggestion that they may be likable or have any human feelings (or perhaps are even human). Further with the junior ranks either imploding due to swollen hubris or simply because so many National MPs (like Labour’s middle and bottom tiers) are just seat fillers, cautious drones taking their nice salary and doing little for their electorates, no voter in their right mind would be ticking their name on the ballot form either.

A clear example of this hideous electoral dislocation is Winston Peter’s astounding win in the Northland by-election. In what was supposed to be a safe National seat (until Mike Sabine was found to be under investigation by the Police for Assault in another instance of reprehensible behavior) Winston took his traveling medicine show out on the hustings and reaped the spoils of Nationals arrogance and terrible treatment of the electorate.

And if your still reading at this point you may be getting the picture. National is a party that is on life support and that life support is John Key. As soon as he leaves or no longer has the magic touch in the polls the party will be a shambling corpse, an undead husk full of nothing but vile waste and human maggots.

No one is going to vote for Judith Collins, Jerry Brownlee or any of the others grim specters as leader or as PM and the desperate reliance on dirty tricks and heavily manufactured (official and unofficial) spin has left the party desperately hyping and protecting its one and only political life line, John Key.

But zombie parties do not die, they have to be killed and the question is who will do the killing? Vernon Small pointed out in today’s media that John Keys current position in the wake of Panama Papers (the usual Key safe, clean and neat statements) is effectively “handing a cudgel” to the opposition. But who will swing it? Who has the strength?

The Greens and NZ First most certainly have the will but not the strength to really kill National. Labour has the strength but is unable to get its house in order and remains timidly cowering in the corner (in the tradition of many classic horror movies) paralyzed with fear while the beast runs amok among other victims.

Possibly in combination could these three, like some sort of political transforming robot, combine their powers to take out National but that is unlikely (an issue to be explored at a later date) and the odds that come November 2017 we will either see John Key lead his party into a fourth term or a Coalition Government with Labour, NZ First and the Greens in uneasy coexistence are high.

If National is defeated in 2017 then it’s the end of Key, he won’t hang around and will go off to reap the rewards promised by his backers way back in 2002. If National makes a fourth term then all bets are off and Key will rule as long as his popularity lasts.

And that is the final key (no pun intended) to the puzzle, his popularity. As Phil F pointed out in the comments to my last post (and is echoed by the folks over at Redline Blog), a large section of the New Zealand electorate has been docile and passive in the face of the Machiavellian antics of Key and Co.

Voter apathy in the wake of endless scandals by the National party and John Key means that where acts which would have people out in the streets or at least an uproar in other countries have been met with large doses of indifference and ignorance, which are fuel for the polling engine that drives Team Key. Part of the blame lies with the mainstream media but the other with the general public themselves (again fodder for future posts) and it’s rapidly becomes a chicken or egg argument in determining which causes which.

So to end what has again been a long post (I do apologize for the length) it’s worth summing things up. National is a dead party walking as soon as it no longer has John key to prop it up (be it in person or popularity); it’s filled with corrupt individuals and backed by larger business interest for said interests. Its policy is a mild brand of conservatism, watered down to enable it to hold the middle ground and engineered in-line with failed and discredited Neo-liberal principles.

This is a party fighting a holding action to enable those who currently benefit from 30 years of rapacious public policy to consolidate their gains and maintain their lifestyles. The fact that National is literally rotting away before the nations eyes and lead by a necromancer king has yet to generate the fear and loathing that it should in this climate of change shows that we are either under Keys spell or things will remain as they are until history does the job for us and removes the horror for us.

In times like this a heroine or hero is required, or the peoples will must be manifest, both of which have their dangers but it’s clear that the beehive is now more akin to Dracula’s castle looming over the peasant village below and at nights dark and monstrous shapes can be seen  in the windows.

Who will be that Hero?

Original post here.