Trotter on bogus polls

Reshuffle? Got to try something, I suppose

They’re bogus I tell you.d Got to try something, I suppose

The other day we gave Chris Trotter sledge of the day.

He was linking to his own post on the bogus polls:

ANDREW LITTLE has described the latest One News-Colmar Brunton poll as “bogus”. He insists that “other polls” show the Labour Party doing much better than Colmar Brunton’s figure of 26 percent.

It’s a comment that recalls the famous World War I cartoon in which two British soldiers are depicted taking cover in a shell-crater in the middle of No Man’s Land. “If you know of a better hole,” says the first soldier to the second, “then go to it.” Little’s statement merits a similar dose of mordant humour: “If you know of a better poll, Andrew, then show it.” (And, no, that is not an invitation to show us your own!)

Regardless of its severity, it was tactically foolish of Little to deny the accuracy of Colmar Brunton’s latest survey. The Labour Leader should have anticipated that National’s chief pollster, David Farrar, would have all the relevant facts and figures at his fingertips. With impish glee, Farrar swiftly posted these on his Kiwiblog website:

“At the last election in September 2014 this same poll [Colmar Brunton] had Labour at 25.2%. They got 25.1%. They were very accurate for Labour. In fact it was National they got a bit wrong with a poll of 45.1% vs an actual election result of 47.0%”

When presented with terrible news, it is perfectly natural for human-beings to take refuge in denial. The reactions of ordinary human-beings are not, however, available to those who aspire to political leadership. Upon hearing the poll result, it was Little’s duty to thrust aside his disappointment and deliver a response that would help, rather than hinder, his party’s cause.

Little only released his polling to stave off a coup while he was away bombing selfies between Justin Trudeau and Bill Shorten.

The most obvious rejoinder to a poll showing the Government’s opponents severally commanding 50 percent of the Party Vote would be to emphasise the enormous political cost of disunity. Little should have pointed to the National Party’s consistent success in rallying centre-right voters behind a single banner – its own. He should then have invited centre-left voters to imagine the outcome if, instead of dividing their support between Labour (26 percent) the Greens (13 percent) and NZ First (11 percent), they had followed the example of their right-wing counterparts and swung their support decisively behind the largest opposition party.

No way that is ever going to happen.

How differently the story would be presented if, instead of languishing in the mid-20s, Labour was seen to be level-pegging with National. Would David Farrar be responding to that sort of result with impish glee? Probably not.

Farrar responds with impish glee because he has his own polling and he knows what is bogus and what is not.

Enter the massive strategic problem created by Labour’s decision to negotiate a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) with the Greens. In signing that MoU, Little and his colleagues were effectively admitting that their party’s former, dominant position on the centre-left was irrecoverable. They were also denying Labour the “Unity is Strength!” rallying cry that National used to such good effect in 2005, and which has served them so well in every election since.

It is worth recalling here how tempting it must have been for National to similarly surrender its electoral primacy. It had, after all, sustained a much worse defeat in 2002 than Labour’s 2014 debacle. At just 21 percent, National’s Party Vote could easily have persuaded Bill English and his colleagues to embrace the politics of permanent coalition. This was what the logic of MMP dictated: National and Labour simply had to accept that the days of parties registering support in the high-40s had gone forever.

There was a massive difference. When National was at 21% they still had donations flowing in, a large and growing membership base and a talent pool that meant a change of leader was easily achieved and an immediate improvement. Labour on the other hand is broke, has less than 5000 members and has a talent pool shallower than a carpark puddle in high summer.

Tell that to John Key! The latest Colmar Brunton poll gives National 48 percent of the Party Vote – exactly the same figure Key’s party was registering on Election Night 2014. For a party approaching the end of its third term in government, that is little short of miraculous!

It is miraculous that John Key has encountered an opposition with tits for hands and shit for brains.

Apart from the strategic blunder of the MoU, what else explains Labour’s failure to recover its electoral primacy? The answer is brutally simple. Unlike Don Brash in 2004-05, neither Andrew Little, nor his predecessors, have been willing to embrace the sort of policies demanded by their party’s electoral base.

Since 1984, no Labour leader (with the honourable exception of Jim Anderton) has unreservedly and steadfastly repudiated the ideological underpinnings of Rogernomics. A speech from Andrew Little in which he acknowledges the devastation wrought by Rogernomics, and spelling out how he proposes to right the wrongs it inflicted on working-class Kiwis, would almost certainly produce a similar galvanising effect as Brash’s 2004 speech to the Orewa Rotary Club.

And a much better poll.

Oh, I wish Labour would repudiate Rogernomics….because that means they’d embrace Muldoonism which Rogernomics replaced. Socialism is going so well around the world, opposing Rogernomics means hard-core socialist policies that have delivered Venezuela from poverty…oh wait!


– Bowalley Road

  • Cadwallader

    After a month or so it is now clear the MoU between the dying Labour Party and the deluded Greens was a self-written death warrant. Labour and the Greens are not simply labels but carry with them the attributes and characteristics of their members. Little is now attached to Materia who is possibly the most idiotic creature to ever clomp around Parliament, he is wedded to Delahunty who claims she is married to a mountain due only to the fact mountains are not known to be fast on their feet etc.. For all their faults past Labour and Winston saw the calamity of doing business with the Greens; so for Little to join them exhibits his lack of self-belief (not unjustifiably,) his lack of confidence in Labour staff and their jumbled messages and of course the parliamentary party’s own lack of talent. The votes Labour may have expected to accrue from marrying the Greens were in their corner anyway other than a few mixed-up 18 year olds who by and large will recognise their folly a year or so after the election. It is as though the union backed Little was promoted to punish the remnants of the party rather than to lead it, he’s doing a supreme job if this is the case.

  • shykiwibloke

    Trump is preaching to the common working person, and the unions are endorsing him – coal miners and cops in particular. Yet he is portrayed as the anti-Christ to union values by the elite. NZ Labour has exactly the same issue. The party and union elite are divorced from the grassroots. Fix that, you fix the donations and support in one move.
    The yardstick I would use are the tradies. These should be the modern Labour supporters. When Labour appeals to self employed plumbers and sparkies, then they may get traction, but not before. Btw – the same yardstick or litmus test applies to all parties IMHO. The tradies should be seen as some sort of canary in the coal mine so to speak.

  • cows4me

    I can’t see why Trotter works himself up so, what policies has National dumped that the loons introduced when they were on the throne. His deep love for the sickness that is socialism is fully embraced by National, Labour are just tits at it . National are center left so I would have to assume Trotter would want Labour to promote full flushing communism, it’s the only thing that would make him happy.

  • Kevin

    Every time I think some Labourite is finally getting it they go and ruin it by saying something like “therefore we need to move more to the Left!”. The only thing that surprises me about Chris Trotter’s post is that he didn’t mention the name Corbyn.

    I get the argument though. When you’re in opposition the idea is to give the voters an alternative. The problem is when something is working you don’t win the argument by arguing the opposite.

    No Chris, Labour needs to move to the centre left and even start stealing votes from the centre right. Labour needs to start co-opting National’s policies and putting a more happy face on them.

    You know, Chris – the centre – where the votes are.

  • waikatosinger

    Rogernomics is ancient history to anyone under the age of 40. Does Trotter honestly think younger people care about this? I’ll bet most couldn’t even tell you what Rogernomics means.