Audrey Young leads the opposition pep rally

You have to be really optimistic to call last week anything but a clusterwhatsit for the opposition.  But Audrey Young has found the positives.

It has been a bad week for the alternative Government – though not necessarily disastrous.

Andrew Little and Labour’s polling is heading south and the party’s alternative families package was not an instant hit.

The two other essential elements of an alternative to National domination, the Greens and New Zealand First, have been at each other’s throats, highlighting the other’s respective “racism” and “stupidity.”

Yeah, I can see that this is not necessarily disastrous.  For National.  

For Little, the poll came at a crucial time – 11 weeks from the election when voters are starting to take more notice of politicians, and it aired on TV1 the night before the party launched its families package.

It seemed to sap his confidence in media appearances about the package which gives more money than National’s package to 70 per cent of all families with dependent children but takes away its tax cuts.

The poll has prompted a round of post-mortems among the Left about whether Labour should have moved further left, been bolder and less constrained by fiscal orthodoxy and who should be the next leader (Jacinda Ardern is the consensus).

At this stage, you might wonder why Audrey Young thinks there is not a guaranteed disaster in the wings come election time.

The post-mortems are way too premature. The party may be demoralised that its support is down to 26 per cent (similar to where it was at the same time under David Cunliffe’s leadership) but what hasn’t changed is that New Zealand First is likely to decide the next Government.

While a National-New Zealand First government is also a viable alternative government, what is clear is that about half of voters support National and its current partners and about half support the Opposition parties.

A good or bad campaign could be worth a few percentage points and campaigning is English’s weakness.

There is no logic that says Winston Peters would necessarily find National a more acceptable alternative – two weeks ago Peters called on English to resign over the Todd Barclay debacle, and this week said he was not fit to be Prime Minister.

There is no logic that says Peters would find Labour a better coalition prospect if it won 30 per cent of the vote than say, 24 per cent. There is a case for the opposite applying. A weaker Labour Party may be more willing to give New Zealand First a stronger deal than National.

In short, no matter how poorly Labour does at the polls, NZ First will make up the difference for a Labour/Green/NZ First government to have a majority.

REJOICE Labour!   This is all good news!!

Spare a thought for political journalists that, instead of reporting what’s going on, are desperate to keep the election looking like it is some kind of genuine unknowable race.

If there was an award for reviving a dead duck, Audrey would be a solid nominee.


– Audrey Young, NZ Herald

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