Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Election wrap

Every bullfrog and their leg rope has had their take on the election. So why not me?

Unusually, “None of the Above” didn’t win this election:

Pic by Nick Young

As my colleague Richard McGrath suggests, parliament should leave 28 places at the trough empty to reflect this voter disgust.

This was not because of low turnout that “None of the Above” polled so poorly.  (This was one of New Zealand's lowest turnouts ever.) It was because National did unusually well.  The first MMP election in which a party scored enough votes to rule on its own, and – virtually unheard of – a party lifting its vote for a third term in government.

It helped that its opposition was virtually unelectable. But National still had to beat the usual winner, None of the Above. And it did. Just.

Perhaps #DirtyPolitics helped? That what the electorate saw was not the muck but that it was directed National’s way, with Hager conflated as DotCon, and voters simply wanting to get behind “our guy.”

That might be a touch simplistic.

But perhaps there is a positive sign here.

Labour and the Greens unashamedly went the Big Government route. In rejecting Muldoonist Revival – their nationalised electricity, nationalised insurance and investment banks, nationalised housing, entrepreneurship subsidies, sovereign wealth fund to finance pet projects, higher taxes, house taxes, bans on foreigners buying houses – the silent majority have largely signalled they want no part of that.  Turns out most folk who voted for all of  that are either on welfare already, or living in Grey Lynn.

I suspect most voters -- that overwhelming number who for the most part keep their opinions to themselves and how showed up in numbers to vote on an awful weather day -- the large and mostly silent majority who don’t have columns and slots on TV shows -- were thinking that a vote for the Blue Team was a vote for more capitalism, or something like that. 

And that’s a good thing, right?

Not that National themselves actually stands for much along those lines, but most voters who don’t bury their nose in policy all day long don’t realise that. Turns out most voters want more of what they think capitalism is, and they think the Blue Team are mostly delivering it.

Turns out years of indoctrination in sustainability all through voters’ school years still fails to get Team Green over the 15% line.

And Labour’s Nanny-statism is now confined to a small rump of support comprising mostly the commentariat and the collectors of welfare.

And the John Minto-Annette Sykes fringe are really as fringe as fringe can be, despite the fetid dreams of Martin Martyn Bradbury – who as political pundits go could not be more consistently wrong.

These are all good things. 

Really good things.

And it turns out you can’t buy votes either.  DotCon spent $577 a vote!, succeeding only in getting fewer votes than the Maori Party and losing Hone his seat – and, just maybe, with it’s last-week Moment of Strewth, giving National’s campaign a late lift. Colon spent almost as much, with only a slightly greater return, only to have his dreams of Crown limousines shattered once again.

So was it a “win for the centre right,” if that flatulent phrase means anything? Well, if you do bury your nose in National’s policy, it’s going to fail the sniff test. Any sane observer would realise they’ve long ago gone centre-left.

And that’s the bad thing.

Because, in the end, what is the point of National being there if it is only to keep the other bastards out? If it is going to do nothing to either reform or repeal – or to make the arguments that make either politically palatable – then all it is doing is marking time while the opposition reforms itself.

And they’re not the only ones. The party that National’s leftist blancmange leaves space for – ACT, the party that should be making the case for freedom, liberty and property rights – still needs to undergo its own reform after years of throwing muck at itself.

If there is to be a party wholly dedicated to a libertarian/classical liberal agenda, and New ACT is now that party, then it isn’t enough to have just one MP partially gagged due to his reliance on the Blue Team’s largesse for its electoral existence. It needs to have other folk boldly going where other parties fear to tread, publicly making the case for the principles that built the western world.

Which is why it’s so important to ACT’s continuing existence, now that ACT has finally found its mojo under Jamie Whyte, that Jamie Whyte continues working from outside parliament to build an electoral fire under ACT. (Something that I’m sure he realises is an intellectual and educational battle as much as a political one.) Because if he doesn’t keep active to that end, if an electorally-gagged David Seymour is all that is to remain in perpetuity of his party of peripatetic principle, then he might as well just be another anonymous National MP.

And then where would liberty be.

It’s impossible to wrap this election without mentioning the media – those folk who selected the agendas they thought were “newsworthy,” which were revealed on Saturday to be mostly the opposite of what voters wanted to hear about.

If there is one braindead member of this would-be fourth estate who epitomises their cluelessness and worse – and it’s a toss-up between several tossers, to be fair – then I’m awarding the prize to TV3’s Patrick Gower, a fellow with a face made for radio and a soul made from the sewer.

If you’re familiar with The Fountainhead then you’ll remember Stephen Mallory’s “Drooling Beast.” Gower’s visage is its physical epitome, and this interview an embodiment – right down to the misspelling.



  1. ACT got in because of National welfare and the ACT party vote was hardly encouraging. I'd like to see ACT exert some influence but if Key and Dunne had a chat about Dunne's low numbers ACT will hardly be in a position to strut.

    Its a bit depressing that people may think National is right wing but encouraging that the real left got such a hiding. Maybe that's about as good as it gets?


  2. Last night on Paul Henry some lady, name unknown consultant I think, said, "ACT is finished". Don't agree with her. Just looked at the Gower intervue again as had watched on Sunday. Haven't changed my opinion about Gower bloody slanted egotist who needs lesson's on how to interview. Support Jamie staying on at ACT. Thought Jamie and David presented and answered well in the presence of such a prat.
    National will need ACT again in the future both to get over the line and apply the hand break when they venture to far left.
    ACT needs to get its thinking cap on. Forget about Libertarians as they go off the rails to the left eventually when they grow into their own self importance. e.g. Greenwald. ACT needs to get back to citizens and taxpayers respecting property rights and growing business -- Capitalism

  3. For some completely inconceivable reason, Key & English have a reputation as good financial managers.
    Saving NZ from a decade of deficits, undoing the damage of Hellen & Cullen etc etc.

    Well guess what? We've already had six years of that decade, six years of deficits, SIXTY BILLION dollars in debt, and no real plan to pay any of it back --- or rather, we know how it will be paid back: the 10% of Kiwis who are net taxpayers, those households with incomes over only $200,000 will pack back $300,000 each. That debt will still be there at the end of the decade, and me & my immediate family will have to pay a million dollars of extra tax thanks to John Key and Bill English.

    And as for Jamie "Mr Incest" "Guns under counters" "Shoot the burgs" "More crims in prison" Whyte - just goes to show yet another academic just isn't Rhyte as a political leader for NZ! No-one has explained on how spending more tax dollars on more non-violent prisoners is smaller government - because it isn't! Hopefully with McVicar off with Craig, ACT can dump all that more-government-to-control-crims rubbish and get back to personal responsibility & smaller government.

    And above all: don't have no bottom lines. Don't say you'll do anything to prop up Mr Key or whichever better-dressed socialist with a light-blue tie is running National. Do say: SIXTY BILLION. Do say: 1% off the personal tax rate for every 1% of our part vote. And above all: say


  4. I hope Jamie Whyte stays on.
    All they need to do, is raise public awareness of who they are & what they stand for.
    The difficult bit is out maneuvering the media.
    Act needs to stop letting the media set the narrative as to how they are portrayed.

    B Whitehead

  5. Angry Tory

    The government debt will never be paid off. Anyway, it isn't my debt and I assume it isn't yours, so don't worry about it.

    Govt is eventually going to default on its obligations. They'll start with "services" (like health and education). Then they'll move on to policing and finally into dumping super and stealing Kiwisaver. Whatever the obligation they have set up wherein they "owe" somebody something, they'll reneg. That does include the debt.

    Good job.


  6. ACT would need to have a 2 and a half year campaign, starting in a month or so, to make themselves viable and relevant for 2017 - and I have no doubt it will not happen.

    99.9% of this will depend on how 'smart' David Seymour is; Seymour needs to have a good think and make a decision: either A - quietly join the National party in a couple of months time; or B - try and revive ACTs fortunes (A is not as silly as it sounds if you are not going to do B)

    If he chooses B then he needs to be smart, forget this idiocy about being a Minister, and do the following...

    Seymour needs to realise he has SATURATED the Epsom electorate for six months with his face and presence, and needs to lower his profile there considerably over the next year or so or risk boring and turning off most of his constituents.

    This need to drop out of sight in Epsom until about February 2016 should be put to good use.

    He needs to get a list of every Federated Farmers group, Chamber of Commerce, EMA group, 'Young Professionals' group, Golf Club, Rugby Club, Bowling Club, CWI, Rotary Club (etc) throughout the country - and write to all of these organisations asking if they want a 'Guest Speaker'.

    He then needs to get "on the road" when Parliament isn't in session, going around the country spreading the ACT message in a very positive way.

    It involves a lot of work, probably 2 days per week on the road, and often in places you don't particularly want to be, talking to a lot of golf club members you don't particularly want to talk to - but it spreads the message, it gets reported in the local newspaper, it gets a couple of people joining the ACT party.

    It also has the benefit of not being an ideological snipping contest with the Greens or Labour which his election campaign seemed to consist of (ie: The Greens and Labour say you are nasty and horrible and hate the poor; you say you don't; they say you do; you say you don't etc)

    Put together a standard speech of positive themes about free enterprise, low taxes, more responsibility - and go forth and make it.

    Is Seymour smart enough to do this? personally I doubt it - personally I think the temptation to remain bunkered down in Epsom as the toast of the "Beautiful People" of Mt Eden and Parnell will be too great.

    ACT's bread is buttered in the provinces but actually spending 2 days a week in provincial NZ making speeches seems too much like hard work (Rodney always thought so).


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