Chris Trotter

Beware of the bunker mentality


On Thursday evening the latest Roy Morgan poll came out. Normally I don’t comment on Roy Morgan polls, for a start they aren’t a member of the Market Research Association of NZ and their poll is all over the place showing massive swings for no apparent reason.

The only reasons that I comment on Roy Morgan polls is because it is the darling of the left-wing commentators who clutch at straws these days and because they tell us that they poll mobile phones, which is yet another bugbear of the left who think the indigent classes are left out from land line polling. There is not evidence at all to suggest this is the case, yet they persist with the urban myth. That, therefore, is why I comment on Roy Morgan…because the very things that the left uses to discount results of other polls that don’t suit their narrative don’t exist in Roy Morgan polls.

So, looking at left-wing commentary since the latest Roy Morgan it has been a struggle to see anything. save for the erudite musings of Chris Trotter, other than int he comments sections of the more popular left-wing blogs or on news sites.

The one thing that is apparent though is the bunker mentality of some.

Normally the left-wing blogs will crow about the Roy Morgan, now there is nothing but silence. Greg Presland even went out of his way to write a post that declared last week a win for David Cunliffe, despite his “cluster truck” policy being panned universally all week, their manufacturing policy launch slipping by un-noticed due to releasing it late on the day before a long extended holiday weekend and continued vocal criticism of their inept and wonky social media campaign that continues to deliver cock-ups and mis-steps. No mention of the poll still despite three days having elapsed…but plenty of time to write a post as to why Chris Trotter and Kiwi in America are wrong, dead wrong, and labour really is on the up and up.

Even Lynn Prentice felt so compelled to fill the void of political commentary that he wrote a lengthy post about how the servers operate The Standard, proving once again that he is the world’s greatest sysop. For a site with so little traffic they seem to have engineered themselves something Telecom would be proud of to run their enterprise.

The bunker mentality has set in, and it is bunker mentality that really takes its toll in politics. People hunker down, they ignore observable facts and details and continue to issue stirring announcements about great victories when the reality is they are pressed on all sides.

Comments dismissing polls and commenters with spurious reasoning shows this:

Pete it was one poll taken during the royal visit, Labour and the Greens went down and the right track wrong track rating went up by a similar amount to National’s increase. Wait for the next few polls and then have the discussion. Or do you think that we should cancel the election now and just let Key get on with it.

And do you always agree with Chris or just when he backs up your world views?


Presuming it is valid, and RM does bounce around, it seems that the Royal Tour has had the desired effect …

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Whinging and whining ain’t cutting it with the public

Chris Trotter is the bellwether of the left…he is prepared to say things that the more tribal members of the commentariat aren’t prepared to say.

Twice in as many days he has quietly pointed out the failure of the Cunliffe experiment. He writes at The Daily Blog:

THE LATEST ROY MORGAN POLL has Labour on 28.5 percent (down 3.5 percent) and the Greens on 11.5 percent (down 1.5 percent). At 40 percent, the combined vote of the two main centre-left parties has fallen 5 percentage points since Roy Morgan’s previous survey in late March. Roy Morgan has long been the Left’s favourite polling agency: a source of good news when the Colmar-Brunton, Reid Research and Ipsos agencies could offer nothing but ill-tidings. That “our poll” has begun to deliver ill-tidings of its own is bad news indeed.

Chief among the causes of this worrying decline must surely be the political antagonisms currently dividing Labour and the Greens. David Cunliffe’s decision to spurn the Green Party’s offer of an explicit pre-election coalition agreement, itself a reaction to internal Labour Party polling data, has clearly not been enthusiastically received by centre-left voters.

The other cause of Labour’s 3.5 percent decline in popular support can only be the its leader’s ham-fisted response to the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Justified or not, the public perceived Cunliffe to be whingeing about the amount of face-time he had been allocated with the Royal Couple. New Zealanders are notoriously unsympathetic to “whingers” and they undoubtedly mentally piled Cunliffe’s comments upon all the other ill-considered statements he has made since January.

In both cases the quality most conspicuously lacking in the Leader of the Opposition’s decisions was courage. Regardless of whether Russel Norman’s motives in offering to campaign for a “Labour/Greens Government” were well-intentioned or darkly Machiavellian, it is now pretty clear that the smart move would have been for Labour to seize the offer with both hands.

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Key is “a twenty-first century Holyoake” – Chris Trotter

Chris Trotter has written a very good post about why he thinks John Key may well go on to become NZ longest serving Prime Minister…but for the foibles of MMP.

IN HIS MEMORABLE holiday-home encounter with the host of Campbell Live, the Prime Minister, John Key, did not rule out running for a fourth term. Were he to be successful, the long-standing record of Sir Keith Holyoake (11 years and 2 months) would be surpassed and the title of longest-serving National Party Prime Minister would pass to the incumbent. How tempting it would then be for John Key to set his sights on “King Dick’s” (Prime Minister Richard John Seddon’s) crown of 13 years and 2 months. Just imagine that – a fifth term! By then the youthful Jacinda Ardern would be 41 years old!

Some will dismiss Key’s musings as yet another example of his celebrated political bravado. But there is another message to be drawn from his speculations concerning a fourth (or even a fifth) term. The Prime Minister’s suggestion that he and the National Party are good for another two or three election wins may also be read as his pledge to the electorate that any government he leads will be moderate and restrained in its policies.

Sir Keith Holyoake could not have governed New Zealand from November 1960 until February 1972 as anything other than a consensus-seeking prime minister. By indicating that he is not adverse to such a lengthy term of office, John Key is signalling to us that he, too, is a consensus politician.  Read more »

Trotter: ‘the phrase “Labour/Greens government” does not pass the plausibility test’

Chris Trotter explains why David Cunliffe has pushed the toxic Greens out into the cold.

The answer, I believe, is to be found in the voters Labour’s campaign strategists (most particularly the political scientist and polling specialist, Rob Salmond) have identified as the primary target of Labour’s election campaign. These are not the legendary “missing million” who declined to cast a ballot three years ago, but a much more manageable group of around 300,000 men and women who have voted for Labour in the past (2005, 2008) but who, for a whole host of reasons, sat out the General Election of 2011.

Salmond’s argument is that these voters can be readily “re-activated” if Labour presents them with a plausible pitch for their support. The key-word there is “plausible”, and outside Labour-held electorates in the main centres there is every reason to believe that the phrase “Labour/Greens government” does not pass the plausibility test.

The evidence for this comes, paradoxically, from the National Party. Simon Bridges’ ridiculous comments about the 50-odd mining permits issued on Russel Norman’s watch is only the most extreme example of what is obviously an agreed Government strategy to conflate Labour and the Greens into a single, politically extreme, electoral bogeyman. David Farrar’s polls and Crosby-Textor’s focus-groups have clearly thrown up a powerful negative reaction to the idea of Labour joining forces with the Greens. So much so that National is doing everything within its power to imbed the idea deep in the electorate’s psyche.

And, if National’s voter research is picking up this negative anti-Green vibe, how long can it be before Labour’s own pollster, UMR, and its focus-group convenors start detecting similar sentiments in their own samplings? And if they do, is it really credible to suggest that Labour should simply ignore them? If the party’s whole electoral strategy is based on persuading those 300,000 former Labour voters to return to the fold, and the Labour/Greens proposition is going to make that less likely, then what possible motive would Labour have for accepting the Greens’ invitation?  Read more »

Trotter on Cunliffe’s lack of voice

Chris Trotter has gone from writing off Labour to pleading that someone, anyone, helps David Cunliffe find his political voice.

The political voice he uses now is different depending on the audience he is speaking ot. On radio he lowers his voice and appears conciliatory, yet promising or saying nothing. It is literally boring. You can hear that he has dropped what there is of his chin onto his chest and is looking down as he speaks…nodding at the phone as he speaks…close your eyes next time he is on radio and remove all distraction and see if I am right.

His stand up voice is smug and smarmy, he again drops his chin, but not as much and talks down, imperiously to journalists, but usually over their heads to someone else, though there is no one else there. Again his body language is all skew whiff, nodding when he should b shaking his head, shaking his head when he should be nodding, and he has this disastrous quirk where he tilts his head on its side in an attempt to make his mouth seems straight but only serves to give the impression he is sneaky and lying….which he probably is.

His final voice is the his Avondale market voice which is a toffs version of bro-speak, interspersed with little snippets of Maori to impress the natives. It is as fake as his CV.

So which voice is it that Trotter wants to hear?

DAVID CUNLIFFE’s biggest problem is his voice. Not his actual voice, which is fine, but his political voice: the way he is heard by the voting public. It’s a problem because the one he’s using at the moment isn’t working. It doesn’t ring true. And until it does he’s not going to be able to engage with the people he needs to make him Prime Minister.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Cunliffe is a fake. One-on-one, eyeball-to-eyeball, in small groups, he can be utterly transfixing. In the discussions I’ve had recently about the Labour leader’s “voice” problem, this ability to inspire has been attested to over and over again. And I know it’s true because I’ve felt it myself. When Cunliffe fixes his eyes on you and speaks about the things that matter – both to him and to you – he can be utterly compelling.

Unfortunately, all that communicative power and authority is lost whenever Cunliffe is required to address a hostile and/or sceptical audience – most particularly the news media. At these moments he becomes the political equivalent of Iron Man. In the blink of an eye the high-tech suit of armour snaps shut around the vulnerable person inside and his communication, while factual and fluent, loses all colour, all life. It becomes, in a word, robotic.  Read more »

Trotter explains why Labour is in trouble

Chris Trotter is a smart guy, one of the few on the left I respect.

He knows a fair bit about campaigning too and he explains why Labour is in trouble this election while they sink slowly in the polls.

… Mary lived in a Labour-held electorate, her MP really wasn’t much cop – at least not as far as the people who lived on Mary’s street were concerned. She had made her way up through the mostly middle-class women’s network of the Labour Party which meant that her working knowledge of the working-class was, to put it kindly, somewhat limited.

But, as I said, Mary came from an intensely political working-class family. Both her parents and two of her siblings were Left-wing party activists, and Mary had acquired the ability to formulate a better-than-average political analysis practically by osmosis. Unlike most of her neighbours, she saw a general election looming. And just like the city’s shrewder party bosses, she was pretty sure her local MP was in trouble.

Sure enough, the polling booths had only been open a few hours on election day when Labour’s scrutineers noticed a frightening trend. If the hundreds of “natural” Labour supporters in Mary’s suburb continued to stay at home (as they were doing in droves) the incumbent MP was going to lose. Somehow word was got to Mary: “Can you get your neighbours out? If Labour doesn’t maintain its vote at your local booth, the Nats will win.”

Now Mary may not have cared much for the Labour Party but she cared for the National Party a whole lot less. So, as the day wore on, Mary wore her knuckles raw on the doors of her friends and neighbours.

She knew them and they knew her. More importantly, they trusted her. So when she told them: “You gotta get down to the school and vote. Yep, right now. Coz if all of us living round here don’t vote Labour, the Nats will win.”

And it worked. Mary’s neighbours squeezed their babies into their strollers, and their voting papers into the ballot box – and Labour held the seat.   Read more »

Hooton and Trotter discuss Labour’s poll results with Plunket

Chris Trotter and Matthew Hooton interviewed by Sean Plunket on RadioLive about Labour’s crisis.

Trotter says Labour will lose even more votes.  He is scathing of David Cunliffe’s Leadership.

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Hooton on the addled thinking of Winston Peters

Matthew Hooton has no love for Winston Peters…once calling him a word that is no longer used on this blog, on television.

He writes in the NBR about what it is that Winston Peters may or may not want.

The left is in despair.

Eminent left-wing scribe Chris Trotter says the election is “all over bar the counting.”  He fears a collapse in both turnout and Labour’s support, humiliating David Cunliffe and resulting in an “unparalleled National victory” for John Key.

From his comrades’ perspective, he is undoubtedly too curmudgeonly.

With the exception of 1999, all MMP elections have gone to the wire.

Even in the weeks before Bill English’s nadir in 2002, there was a mathematical possibility of a National/NZ First/UnitedFuture/Act coalition, limiting Helen Clark to one term.

In 2005, National’s Don Brash, along with the leaders of Act, UnitedFuture and the Maori Party, held talks with Winston Peters about forming a government but Mr Peters chose to give Ms Clark her third term.

More recently, Mr Key scraped home in both 2008 and 2011 by the narrowest of margins.

If Ms Clark hadn’t so slavishly backed Mr Peters through the 2008 Spencer Trust fiasco, she would have won a fourth term.

Similarly, only the go-slow by Mr Cunliffe and his supporters in the last weeks of the 2011 campaign stopped Phil Goff from making Mr Key a one-term prime minister.

If unemployment stays higher than forecast, wage rises are a bit lower, doubts emerge over the fiscal surplus and the official cash rate is closer to 4% than 3% in September, then the gap between National/Act/UnitedFuture and Labour/Green/Mana will narrow.  Mr Peters will again decide who will be prime minister.  Read more »

Trotter says it is all over bar the shouting

Chris Trotter has called the election all but over.

UNLESS SOMETHING HUGELY DRAMATIC HAPPENS between now and polling day, 20 September, the General Election of 2014 is all but over. The National-led government of Prime Minister, John Key, looks set to be returned for a third term by a margin that may surprise many of those currently insisting that the result will be very close. What may also surprise is the sheer scale and comprehensiveness of the Left’s (especially Labour’s) electoral humiliation.

By which dark paths must one travel to reach these gloomy (for the Left!) conclusions? Simply stated, one has only to follow the basic precepts of psephology (the study of elections and electors).

No matter whether you approach the forthcoming election from the perspective of the socio-economic context of the contest; contrasting styles of political leadership; the policies of the major players; the parties’ organisational heft and their respective financial resources; or the many factors influencing turnout; the advantage lies decisively with the National Party.

Ominous and dark are those words from Trotter. But as is usual he backs them up with salient facts and observations.

With most opinion pollsters recording three-fifths to two-thirds of voters saying the country is “heading in the right direction” it is clear that the run of generally positive news stories about the New Zealand economy are rebounding to National’s advantage. To those with secure paid employment and/or comfortable incomes, these reports offer no compelling reason for a change of government.

Yes, of course, there are 285,000 children living in poverty and 150,000 people out of work, but by and large these are the most socially marginalised and politically inert members of New Zealand society. They are consequently also the most likely to stay at home on election day. In the absence of the “hugely dramatic” intervention alluded to above – something big enough to propel them back into the electoral process – poor Kiwis simply won’t be counted.  Read more »

Stuart Nash responds to media bias claims coming from the left

shoot-self-in-foot copy

The main cry coming from left wing commentators and paid bloggers and spin weasels is that the media is bias and hates David Cunliffe.

They claim this is the media’s fault without critically examining why such a situation may exist in the first place.

Stuart Nash responds to Chris Trotter’s attempts to blame media in the comments at The Daily blog. [Edited as to formatting, not content]

Chris, this is an interesting piece (and I am going to write my own tonight), but complaining about the media is the same as MPs complaining that MMP has added a rural hump into their once-safe electorates. So what.!

The stories in the media piss me off as much as they do the next person, however, we know this is now the game. If you don’t like the heat then get out of the kitchen.

We all know the media hunt as a pack, and if they smell blood they go hard.  Read more »