Northland

An insight into why Northland was lost

Most observers have struggled to pinpoint just precisely what went wrong in Northland.

I must confess to being flummoxed myself as well, that is until I read an article in the NY Times about the problems with modern political parties.

The article looks at the continuing demise of larger parties in Europe and Britain, and gives some insights to Labours problems here and also National’s problems.

Part of the reason for the decline is Socialism’s success, in the last century, in winning key protections for the working class, from trade unions to pensions and national health care, that are hard to finance in an aging population. But the right, which used to represent the landed and corporate rich and those who felt affinity to them, has suffered its own decline.

“Parties of the left, which used to be anchored in the working class, in the trade union movement and factories, are now increasingly dominated by public-sector employees and creative industries like the media,” Mr. Leonard said. “Parties of the right, which used to stand for the aspirational classes, are now more elitist and metrosexual. The countryside is disgusted by the metrosexual cosmopolitanism of the conservatives and the workers are disgusted by the new left.”

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Winston to the rescue!!!

The so-called Darby and Joan Bridge in the Waipoua kauri forest is on the list of 10 one-way bridges to be upgraded – an announcement National made during the Northland by-election.

Te Roroa Treaty settlement negotiator Gary Hooker said no one from National asked what iwi thought.

He said if they had, they would have discovered the bridge was flanked by two iconic kauri.

“The only way it could be done, as far as I can see, is for one or both of the trees to be moved, which in itself could be quite an undertaking,” Mr Hooker said. Read more »

Fat Tony on Northland

Mike Williams aka Fat Tony has a column in the Hawkes Bay Today about Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle.

MAKE no mistake, the outcome of the Northland byelection last Saturday is a political boilover of seismic proportions.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters won one of the National Party’s safest seats with an election night majority of more than 4000 votes, erasing a National Party majority of over 9000 votes in the general election just a few months before. Winston Peters’ final majority is likely to increase when the nearly 1000 newly-enrolled special votes get included in the total.

This 13,000 vote turnaround is unprecedented in our political history, but it is the internal dynamics of Peters’ triumph that should give Prime Minister John Key and National Party campaign manager Stephen Joyce pause for very serious reflection.

Apart from a governing party losing a safe seat, two statistics set this contest apart from any previous byelection. About half of the voters chose to cast their ballot before election day and the level of participation was huge.

The early voting phenomenon is unprecedented, and it exceeds a trend in recent polls.

The turnout level is a genuine abnormality. It has been a rule of thumb for years that byelection turnout levels are half of the previous general poll. The Christchurch East byelection saw 13,000 electors vote compared with the 28,000 who had voted in the previous general election.

This is the established pattern.

Northland broke that mould. With 28,000 voting in the byelection, this wasn’t much short of the 34,000 that voted in the general election five months before.

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The shamelessness is off the scale

kauri_leaves

Winston Peters says he’d climb a threatened kauri tree in his electorate, to save it from the chainsaw.

Two ancient trees will be under threat if the Government keeps its by-election promise to widen the Darby and Joan bridge. Read more »

I can’t believe Andrew Little still has not spoken to Winston Peters

Unbelievably, since Andrew Little has become Leader of the Opposition, he has barely spoken to Winston Peters and even more unbelievably he hasn’t het met him since Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle.

Claire Trevett highlights the bizarre situation.

The member of Parliament-elect for Northland, Winston Raymond Peters, returned to the House this week, a Phoenix rising, a man transformed.

Strangely, the result has quite gone to Labour’s head. It is acting as if it won the byelection. For the past two days, Labour MPs have strutted in and asked a number of Northland-related questions in Parliament.

Leader Andrew Little and other Labour MPs dedicated their general debate speeches to rubbing National’s nose in the dog poos that was its campaign. Little has also talked about working more with Peters to build a united, strong Opposition. Labour seems to think sending its voters Peters’ way has bought it coalition insurance, a strong comrade-in-arms.

Little best invest in a long spoon before he starts attempting to spoon Peters.

Labour voters did help Peters but at least 9000 of his 15,400 votes did not come from Labour.

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Trotter on the effects of Northland on Labour and National

Chris Trotter has always been a keen observer of Winston Peters and in his blog he comments on what the victory in Northland means for Labour and for National.

To hold Northland will NZ First be required to veer to the Right – thereby alienating the thousands of Labour supporters whose votes provided the foundation for Mr Peters’ upset win?

Will the National Government, looking ahead to 2017 and beyond, begin to re-position itself as NZ First’s future coalition partner?

How will Mr Peters’ Northland victory influence Labour’s political positioning – especially its relationship with the Greens?

Good questions which Trotter goes some way to explaining.

Labour, if it is wise, will seize the opportunity provided by Mr Peters’ victory to put even more distance between itself and the Greens. In his continuing effort to “re-connect” Labour with its traditional constituencies, Andrew Little must already have marked the numerous ideological affinities that draw non-National provincial voters towards one another. These are conservative people, whose personal morals and political values often place them at odds with the more “progressive” voters of metropolitan New Zealand.

The extent to which Labour’s Northland voters defected to Mr Peters indicates that, at the very least, the NZ First leader’s political values presented no insurmountable barrier to Labour’s people following their own leader’s tactical advice. Indeed, just about all the insurmountable barriers to the re-connections Labour must make if it is to regain the status of a “40 percent party” have been raised in the cities – not the provinces.

Even in the cities these obstacles persist. Labour’s traditional urban working-class supporters have more in common with their provincial brothers and sisters than many Labour Party activists are willing to admit.

Shunting-off their social revolutionaries to the Greens might decimate the ranks of Labour’s membership, but it could, equally, swell the ranks of those willing to vote for the party in 2017. Shorn of its radical fringe, Labour not only becomes a much more comfortable fit for NZ First – but also for working-class New Zealanders generally.

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The Silence of the Lambs

Well National’s caucus was a non-event.

After a 25 minute tirade from John Key it can best be summarised as “National was always going to lose the campaign, but ran a good campaign…really it was a good one…but because it was a by-election it has no effect…nothing to see here, move along“.

Not one MP spoke out about the dreadful result or the cast of characters responsible for the debacle.

It was Silence of the Lambs…and those lambs are now being led to the slaughter.

To cap it all off they all congratulated themselves and all those who worked so very hard for the…uhmmm…loss.

Are these muppets on a different planet to me?   Read more »

Who to blame? Richard Harman has some ideas

Someone in National needs to be held to account for losing a seat they had held for 70 years.

Today is their caucus meeting and there is much to mull over, especially the actions of the campaign team during and post the campaign.

Richard Harman attempts to point the finger.

Was it the candidate?

The candidate, Mark Osborne, won selection largely on the back of votes from the northern end of the electorate centred on Kaitaia where he lives. Those votes were marshalled by Mr Carter.

Mr Osborne defeated the much more locally credentialed Grant McCullum from Wellsford who is also a member of the National Party Board.

The problem with having the north select the candidate is that the largest segments of the population live in the south, around the Bay of Islands and across to the west coast around  Dargaville.

Kaitaia is over 80 kilometres away and Mr Osborne, who manages a Council facility there, is simply not a big enough name for the people in the south to know much about him.

[…]

On the campaign trail he looked a stunned mullet, plainly out of his depth with little charisma and nothing much to say.

But it would be unfair to blame him alone.

National badly misread the mood of the electorate and here the fingers get pointed more obliquely, more subtly at Mr Joyce.

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RMA reforms dead in water after Steve Joyce’s Northland debacle

The first consequence of Steve Joyce’s disastrous campaign in Northland is that the RMA reforms that National promised at the election are now dead in the water.

Prime Minister John Key says Government will have to “rip up” its Resource Management Act reforms after National’s by-election defeat in Northland.

Speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, Mr Key said that there now no chance of getting majority support for changes to the Act’s core principles.

“With the RMA, there’s just no question that you’ve got to rip up what we’ve got now, go back to the drawing board and have another go,” he said.   Read more »

Armstrong on Key

John Armstrong comes out discussing the fact that John Key’s invincibility is now dented after Northland.

Like all persuasive political spin, National’s attempt to put the blame for its thrashing in the Northland byelection down to “a unique set of circumstances” will get some traction because that rationale contains a strong element of the truth.

The governing party would be deluding itself, however, if it thinks there are no major ramifications for National beyond that electorate’s boundaries.

Sure, the circumstances triggering the byelection were unique in making voters angry about being kept in the dark as to why previous MP Mike Sabin was obliged to resign from Parliament.

[…]    Read more »