The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

mr no mates

It seems to me that part of National's strategy at this election is to get rid of two of its most likely coalition partners. The Act scenario has been discussed ad infinitum (and ad nauseum, although I'm sure that won't stop me posting about it again soon), but I think sagenz has made an interesting point in his post about Winston resembling heated bread.

Sagenz points out that Bob Clarkson is "a well respected local [who] has the numbers to eject Winston." National would surely have known this, or at least had a fair idea, when they selected their candidate, so it must have been their intention to try to remove Winston from the game.

It's pretty obvious to anyone who watches NZ politics that Peters is a man to whom loyalty is important. He gets snippy with journalists on a regular basis because they aren't as nice to him in print or on the radio as they are in the bar, as Jane Clifton pointed out in a North and South interview recently.

So if Clarkson wins Tauranga but Winston gets back in by breaking 5% then any possible coalition talks with National are going to be very interesting indeed...

Monday, August 29, 2005

tax porn

Heinously uplifted from Stuff, here.

A bit of info for the endless taxation debates. No time to comment now except to say look how little the DPB is compared to Super, and yet one parent on the DPB gets more guilt trips than any 200 people on Super...

a bookish interlude

Ok folks, this has nothing to do with politics whatsoever.

But if anyone out there has recently read Paullina Simmons' The Girl In Times Square, I'd like to discuss the ending.

Look I just think the ending was completely not credible. I actually thought it would turn out to be a dream sequence or something similar, and that she was hallucinating whilst in her coma. The end would then be left open, ie you would never know if she lived or died (or rather died then rather than later). IMHO that would have been much better.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

race tightens again

The latest One News-Colmar Brunton came out tonight, pronouncing itself as the "first full poll conducted since National announced its tax cuts this week" and it shows Labour still in front, albeit by a decreasing margin.

The figures:
Labour - 43 (down 2)
National - 40 (up 3)
Greens - 7 (up 1)
NZFirst - 5 (down 1)
Act - 2 (same)
Maori Party - 1 (same)
United Future - 1 (same)

Friday's NZ Herald poll showed Labour's lead falling dramatically after the National announcement, however that sample was only 350 (thanks STC for spotting that), which must mean a margin of error of 7% or more. There are similar problems with the SST poll released today, which shows the same trend.

But all three polls have one thing in common - Labour still in front despite National firing off their big vote-winner. I've got my fingers crossed (and leaflets folded) for Sept 17th.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

a bit more blog analysis

DPF has broken down the numbers of blogs by political party affiliation, but here's a bit more detail, as the list stands today:

Christian parties - 1
Destiny NZ - 1

Right parties - 25
Act - 16
National - 7
Libz - 2

Centre-Right parties - 4
NZ First - 1
United Future - 3

Centre-Left parties - 8
Labour - 7
Progs -1

Left parties - 9
Alliance - 4
CWG - 2
Greens - 3

Which leads to:
Right of centre (affiliated) - 30 blogs (64%)
Left of centre (affiliated) - 17 blogs (36%)

Of course there are no doubt many blogs I have missed out, but as I'm not omniscient you are just going to have to accept my failings or add missed blogs in comments (and many thanks to those who did on the original post listing affiliations).

Just to clarify again, the bloggers I have counted as affiliated are those who have declared for one particular party, which is why some group blogs are listed under more than one party (different bloggers within the same blog supporting different parties, which is generally an Act and National phenomenon).

And this analysis totally ignores the unaffiliated blogs, and both No Right Turn and Public Address are giants amongst the left blogosphere, so it is a bit misleading to just say that ROC blogs outnumber LOC blogs by roughly 2 to 1.

Update: Have added two more Greens affiliated blogs to the original post, thanks resistantsoy, so there are 5 Greens, making 19 LOC now. Meaning LOC affiliated blogs are up three points to 39% (as at 29th August). Another Update: After further reflection Phil U has been removed from the Green list (becoming unaffiliated), meaning LOC affiliated blogs down now to 18, which is 37%.

Friday, August 26, 2005

in the spirit of metro

I wonder if this post from Aaron about possible push polling in Epsom, and this report from Jono Newton on his campaigning ACTivities are somehow related?

not a Cabinet In Waiting

To change the government National needs to present a credible alternative, in terms of both people and policy.

Recent shenanigans between MPs tend to indicate trouble within caucus, and English made an interesting comment at the aforementioned election forum on August 10th, which made it very clear that he was out of the loop on the tax policy. You would expect the former Minister of Finance to be included in that discussion, unless of course it is being conducted on a factional basis.

Thinking back to 1999, it seems to me that Labour was in ascendance, as a party organisation, while National was in decline. While the Nats are certainly making a comeback this election, after plumbing the depths in 2002, I get the impression that the rebuilding is relatively recent and still quite fragile - as shown by the lack of competition within National for many elected posts, eg candidates. Labour by comparison is still very vigorous internally - membership is high, activist levels seem healthy, branch organisation is strong.

Some are starting to feel that a Labour-led government is an inevitable outcome. I'm not sure about this yet, but I suspect if National doesn't take a lead (and I'm talking 4 points plus, not just one or two) in next week's polls (which will measure the impact of their tax policy) then it may be too late. Their polling will fall further as the strategic amongst their voters shift to United and NZ First in a bid to give Labour a coalition partner that those on the Right would prefer, and to Act to insure their survival. If I know anything about Labour it is that they are strong finishers - that is what undid Harre's bid for Waitakere in 2002.

National have not been showing unity on policy. On the few occassions they do talk detail they end up disagreeing with each other. This impacts negatively on their attempts to look like a Cabinet In Waiting, especially given the relative inexperience of their leader and the possibility of including other parties in the mix. Brash's solution to the recent forestry gaffe (imagine how much bigger that would have been in a policy area like health or education?) shows that he wants to stamp his mark but now might not be the best time to do that. The cynic in me wonders if the Smith-Connell disagreement was engineered to give Brash a chance to come in over the top and show his leadership, but it hasn't really worked as it just shows their poor policy (and processes) up.

As Jordan recounts, the wheels have started to come off for National this week and they are desperately running out of time to stick them back on. The media savagery will start in earnest very soon too - Brash's comments on women seem to have ignited some earlier than expected (gee, I wonder why?).

Tick, tick, tick.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

brat packers' policy bungles

Something strange is going on with at least two of the Brat Packers, Bill English and Nick Smith.

At an election forum on education in Auckland on August 10th Bill English denied that National supported standardised testing for 7 year olds. This is despite the following quote taken directly from Don Brash's speech on education given back in April; a speech English is believed to have written the policy for:

I am announcing today that National commits to those parents whose
children are, by the age of seven, failing to achieve the national standards we
will establish that they will be provided with “reading vouchers” to enable
their child to catch up.
Then this morning Nick Smith was on Nat Rad, up against Minister of Conservation Chris Carter, totally contradicting National's forestry policy which had been given to Nat Rad and Carter by Brian Connell, who is actually the National Spokesperson on Forestry (who knew?).
Even when bits of the policy were actually read to Smith he still denied it, accusing Labour of lying and saying that the policy hadn't been released yet. Nat Rad responded by referring to the date on the policy (which from memory was August 21st) and confirming that they had received it directly from Connell's office. I didn't hear the end of the interview unfortunately, maybe he climbed down from the tree before he fell down.

This is all very odd. Unless of course there is some nefarious internal scheming going on and English wants his own job back, meaning Brash has to lose come Sept 17th. Cock-up or conspiracy?


Update: Here's an article on Stuff about Smith's odd pronouncements on forestry, and Connell's approach. Sounds like released policy is going back into the maelstrom of caucus sometime soon...

All of this underlines some tension within the Nats. Desperate for power as they are, they are papering over the cracks frantically, but can you imagine this lot making a productive Cabinet any time soon? And imagine if Winston is in the room too? Can Brash spell I-N-S-T-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

seven reasons why Brash's comment about going easy on Clark was a bad idea

(in no particular order)

1. Susan Woods
2. Kim Hill
3. Jane Clifton
4. Kathryn Ryan
5. Linda Clark
6. Mary Wilson
7. Carol Hirschfield

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

probably not toeing the party line, but anyway...

Following on from my post from Way Back about blogs by students' association affiliation (past or present), here is my breakdown by political party affiliation - including supporters as well as actual outted members.

Please do tell me if I have anyone wrongly pigeon-holed, or have missed anyone out. Seat and/or list ranking in brackets for those who are candidates:

Andrew Falloon - (no. 34 on list)
Asian Invasion - Cathy Odgers - supporter, not sure if member
Clint Heine - member
Hidesight - Rodney Hide, Party Leader (Epsom, no. 1 on list)
KiwiPundit - Nigel Kearney (no. 50 on list)
Lawyer in Sin - Sean is a member
No Turning Left - MikeE, member
On the Right - Mike Heine (Nelson, no. 35 on list)
Rob's Mob - Scott Clune (no. 31 on list)
Silent Running - Bruce, Murray and David identify as "Act/National"
Sir Humphrey's - Gooner is a member, Zen Tiger is a supporter (and also posts on Zen State)
Stanley Climbfall - supporter, not sure if a member
Walking the Right Path - Jono Newton is an active member and also posts at NZ Paradigm and Dollars, No Sense

Joe Hendren
- (no. 15 on list)
Victor Billot - (Dunedin North, no. 8 on list)
Chris Ford - (Dunedin South, no. 12 on list)
spanblather - member and candidate

Communist Workers' Group
Reading the Maps - Scott is a member
Red Rave - CWG blog

Destiny NZ
Kea Blog - supporter

Bloggreen Aotearoa - Kakariki, member
Frogblog - official Greens blog
Last Straw - Christiaan Briggs
resistant soy - member

Jim Anderton's Progressive
Prog Blog
- supporter, probably also a member
SubversNZ - Paul has a pic of his membership card in a post

About Town - Tristan, Xavier, Paul and Kate are all Labour members, not sure about the others Just Left - Jordan Carter, National Council rep and Hobbs' campaign manager in Welly Central
Bertrand Bargolias - Michael Wood (Pakuranga, no. 58 on list)
Commander in Chief - Jeremy Greenbrook, member?
Philosophically Made - Stephen and Oliver are active Young Labour members
Ranting on the ROK - Stef, member
Tim Barnett - Current MP (Christchurch Central, not on the list?!)

Julian Pistorius - Deputy Leader (Northland, no. 2 on list)
Not PC - Peter Cresswell (no. 5 on list)

Aaron Bhatnagar - involved in Jackie Blue's Mt Roskill campaign
Adam Hamilton - not official, group blog from enthusiastic Nats
I Hate Socialism - Gary and Ashley are both members
Kiwiblog - David Farrar, Blumsky's campaign manager in Welly Central
NZ Pundit - Craig at least is an out and proud Nat
Silent Running - as for Act
Sir Humphrey's - Adolf is pure National

NZ First
First Against the Wall - jarrod reckons he's a pity supporter, but i think it's a Friends Like These situation ;-)

United Future
Fiona McKenzie - (Wellington Central, no. 19 on list)
NZ Futurist - Robin Gunston (Mana)
United for a Better Future - Terry's a supporter

Currently I'm not aware of any NZ First or Maori Party bloggers but (and you won't see me write this often) I'm eager to be proven wrong! Also anyone aware of any other party member/supporter bloggers, eg Democrats for Social Credit, please let me know in comments.

Update the First: thanks to I/S and AF for tips regarding Rob's Mob (Act) and Kea Blog (Destiny NZ). Keep them coming! Also fixed a couple of layout mistakes (oops).

Update the Second: thanks to those in comments who have provided more tips regarding Libz, UF, Act and National bloggers. Just to clarify, the list is of members who are out, and also those who have said they are supporters of a particular party.

Update the Third: added Jono, Zen Tiger, Clint, Sean and fixed Fiona. Please note that this is a list of blogs who support one particular party, either by membership or as a supporter, rather than being any kind of history of people's leanings or inclinations. Any more additions please add them to the comments - also any more mistakes that are spotted - I am at work today but will fix them when I can.

Update the Fourth: added Silent Running - thanks for the email Bruce - and made a few updates to where some people were running (electorates and list spots). Thanks also to everyone who has linked to this post, it is certainly getting the hits up, which is always shamefully gratifying ;-)

Update the Fifth: removed Mellie, added CWG blogs and FATW (although i'm not sure he's the kind of supporter Winston would want...)

Update the Sixth: added Stanley. Also see this post for a bit of analysis of the above list.

Update the Seventh: added in Last Straw and Phil U, as instructed rs ;-)

Update the Eighth: removed Phil U again

Update the Ninth: added SubversNZ (thanks to D for the tipoff)

Monday, August 22, 2005

working hard for money and working hard for family

It seems to me that the Nats, in particular John Key, have forgotten that many NZers actually like to spend time with their families, rather than at work.

Case in point - Key's comment on Friday, which I heard on the radio, that Working For Families means that people will spend time with their children on the weekend instead of going to work. Obviously that's not verbatim, but it is pretty close to the words he used. I was waiting for him to make his point, as I didn't see anything wrong with not doing overtime if you didn't need the money.

But Key seems to think there is something wrong with spending some of your week Not Working - his tone left you in no doubt that he thought the way to increase out productivity was to make those already working hard spend more time at work. (And of course by "work" he means "paid employment," bugger those who work their arses off for no money, just a present on Mother's/Father's Day that they probably have to pay for themselves.)

Key's sentiment is repeated by Brash in National's media statement about their proposed adjustments to the tax thresholds, out today:

"Under this tax structure, a person on the average wage can work harder,
do some overtime, or take secondary employment, and they will from next
year keep more than $4 in every $5 they earn," Brash said.

So National want those on the average wage to spend more time at work and less doing the leisure or family thing. They don't want to put up wages (their industrial relations policy would severely undermine recent gains and certainly but the kibosh on significant pay rises in the future) they just want people to work longer to get more money.

Wouldn't it be better if people didn't actually need to have second jobs or do overtime to survive?

The overall impression I get is that Brash and Key don't think NZers work hard enough; that productivity gains are to be made from working longer hours, not working smarter, more R & D, better technology, etc.

It all sounds like a very 19th century solution to me.

Friday, August 19, 2005

voldemort enters the fray

I think National may want to take Act back to whoever you complain to about election advertising - they have replaced the National logo, under "Candidate Vote", with "You know who!"


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

playing electoral catch 22

The Alliance was in Parliament, in one form or another, from Jim Anderton's by-election win in 1989. It left Parliament at the last election, involuntarily, and now it is trying to get back in. Regular readers will know that I am a card-carrying member of the Alliance, and quite keen to see it back in the hallowed halls some time soon. I am realistic enough to know that a resurgence at this election is unlikely, but I would like us to rebuild seriously for 2008.

But here comes the Catch 22 in all of this - it seems if you aren't already in Parliament you cannot get (back) in.

You can't get invites to debates. If you hear about a debate and ask for an invite you are generally told, in varying degrees of politeness, "not today thanks, we're Parliamentary Only round here."

You can't get coverage in the media, except when they choose to poke the Borax at those outside Parliament. The Alliance usually gets slightly more complimentary coverage, as do other parties who once were in the House, like Social Credit and the Democrats. But no matter how many media statements you put out very few are picked up, in fact in the Herald next to none have been picked up (I understand there has been a bit more coverage in The Press and The ODT).

You certainly can't get onto the TV debates. No way, no how. You could promise to do all sorts of pleasurable things to the hosts, their producers, even their dogs, and there is no way - the Parliamentary Only sign goes up every time.

Incidentally it doesn't seem to matter how Parliamentary you are - for example, the Alliance consistently polls around the same, or above, the Progressives, but while the door is thrown wide for Mr Anderton (sometimes with some courtly assistance), Ms Ovens and Mr Piesse (our co-leaders) must stand outside in the cold.

Not only is this anti-democratic, it also favours the Right. It seems to me that the only way for a party not already in Parliament to break in is to have a lot of dosh. If you have enough money to buy yourself coverage (paid billboards, as opposed to just hoardings; full time media officers working on the campaign, as opposed to people trying to fit it into their spare time; copious print ads, you get the idea) you could stand a chance of thus creating some free media coverage too. But otherwise you are stuffed.

The Alliance is actually doing pretty well, all things considered. We have billboards up in a lot of areas, we are churning out a few media statements a week on our policies (of which we have a full range, as opposed to some parties I have previously raved on and on about), we have selected all our candidates and our list (cf NZ First who I hear do not have a Welly Central candidate selected yet), we have a strong history of involvement in the political processes of NZ, not just nationally but also in local government in several cities.

If we can't break through what chance do any of the other parties outside Parliament have?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

is Rodders contesting Epsom or not?

Talk about your mixed messages - a colleague lives in Epsom and the only Act stuff she's had through the letterbox recently emphasises the party vote and says they don't want electorate votes. And then driving around the electorate, the only billboards I have seen for Act were strictly Party Vote focused.

I don't read Rodney's blog these days, having been driven off by the abusive manner of the commenters. But I have noticed on many of the hopeful Act on Campus blogs the authors are still putting Mr Hide up very strongly for Epsom. Yet the campaigning in the area to date doesn't seem to reflect that. And I don't mean reflect that he will win it, but just that he is seriously contesting the electorate itself.

Add to this the fact that Rodders has a website asking for the electorate vote but was recently in the media for paid billboard ads which had "Candidate Vote National, Party Vote Act" on them. On the TV3 Leaders' Debate on Thursday Mr Hide was Party Vote all the way. Even when Winston cracked that he could probably work with Rodney but he wasn't going to be there, Hide didn't retort with Epsom. He could have said "the voters of Epsom don't think so Winston", but he just took it.

As a veteran of Waitakere 2002, I find all this behaviour very strange. Three years ago the Alliance at times compromised our party vote campaign to try to win that crucial seat, knowing that it was really our only chance of survival. I would have expected Act to do the same, although perhaps having learnt some lessons from our failure. But if they are putting a "Vote Hide for Epsom" message out there it must be very targeted indeed, and possibly not even to the majority of Epsom voters...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

not so subtle

Spotted this today:

I wonder how long it will take for a) similar modifications to billboards in the same area and/or b) this billboard to be returned to its original state?

There certainly are a lot of Destiny billboards out East - them and Steve Baron. Labour and National also have good coverage, and I've spotted a couple of Act Party Vote ones. Oh and I think two Greens boards.

The National one up the road from the beauty above had obviously been seen to by someone familiar with jarrod's Don-Brash-is-a-killer-robot-with-lasers-for-eyes theory, but unfortunately I couldn't get a snap.

Monday, August 01, 2005

that time of year part VII - July

Ok so I didn't do June, but who cares, it's really just an accountability exercise for me anyway.

Totally ticked off:
1. Get a new job in the area I want to work in - still no tick to the Roller Skate Reward as it seems you cannot get boot roller skates in Auckland - I've been all over the place. Not sure about buying them over the internet. Maybe I need to find another reward, seeing as it has been almost six months since I ticked this one off. Suggestions welcome.

5. Get at least one stamp in my shiny unused passport - see Vietnam posts.

In train:
3. Think positive - been hard lately due to extreme workload and the detrimental effect of reading negative arseholes on other people's blogs. Have stopped doing the latter and trying hard to rectify the former.

4. Resist over-committing - doing well outside of work. Inside work is another matter (see 3.)

7. Get up to date with my Alliance projects - have scaled back my commitments and found others to delegate to, which is helping.

2. Exercise more - readers who know me from Yore will be quite stunned to know that I have actually joined a gym. Very gentle programme to start with, but I've been going for a week, and during that time have actually gone through it three times - it would have been four but I had to work Saturday and Sunday was a write-off as a result. I'm trying to build up to the Box and Kick classes they offer, in a few months, to see how I like martial arts stuff.

Totally not ticked off, not even a little bit:
6. Finish the kitchen - but we did manage to get the roof fixed, after approx three months of trying to find a roofer who returned messages. Small steps, small steps.

Further reports on Span's New Year's Resolutions:
- May
- April
- March
- February
- January