Tagged: Politics

Voting in Wellington

I really don’t like local government politics.  I think a lot of this is really projected self-loathing, because as a political person I know I should care.  I know it’s important, really, it’s about all those services and environmental and cultural issues which do make a serious difference to how we live and function as a community … but fucking Christ is it a dire thing every three years when it’s not-really-an-election time and a bunch of people you’ve never heard of before are suddenly clamoring for your attention.

So to make it easier on everyone – most of all myself – here’s

Your ultimate Wellington local government mega-voting-advice post with Bonus Candidate Translator

I stole a few of the links here from WCC Watch, but I’ll put them first to make up for it.

Do you care about fluoride?  Check out the WCC Watch guide.

Do you care about libraries?  WCC Watch has the goods again.

Do you care about a living wage?  The Living Wage Campaign has got candidates to sign up to the cause.

Is healthcare your bag?  NZNO have a pledge of their own for DHB candidates, as well as the PSA.

Do you want candidates who can follow directions and give short, snappy responses to important questions?  Wellingtonista has you covered.

Are you a transport fiend?  Generation Zero has done the polling for you.

In case you’re still utterly confused about STV, Graeme Edgeler’s post at Public Address is the time-honoured go-to.

But you’re not fully equipped for the horrors which await you yet, so here, take this:

Candidate Bio Decoder

If the following words appear in a candidate bio or statement, they’re probably a rabid rightwing scumbag:

  • “strong leadership” (as a positive)
  • “balanced transport solution” (only mentions roads and parking spaces)
  • “affordable rates” (as a positive), “high rates” (as a negative)
  • “fiscal responsibility”
  • “Why is Celia wearing the same dress for the entire mayoral campaign? And it isn’t flattering at all.”
  • “showers”

[Daily Blog reposts] Binning the MMP review: is it just kneejerk antidemocratism?

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 16 May 2013.

So, the National-led government is basically canning the huge amount of work and Sacred Taxpayer Dollars which went into the review of our electoral system – because, as aptly demonstrated by Holly Walker of the Greens and Lianne Dalziel of Labour, they don’t like it.

What don’t they like?  The common assumption is that it’s about the recommendations to eliminate lifeboating – i.e. Peter Dunne winning Ohariu again and dragging in a bunch of fundies with him – and to balance that out by reducing the party vote threshold to 4%.

What I don’t get is why.

I mean, Walker is going with the (very strong) line that it’s because National are reliant on Banks and Dunne, who both probably have delusions of one day regaining extra seats in the House.

I am no political scientist, nor do I have access to the magical beast which is internal party polling, but this makes little sense to me.  Does anyone see Banksy keeping hold of Epsom? Does anyone see the electorate swinging behind United Future again, after the hilarious debacles which have always ensued – and always get recited whenever Dunne seems to be courting the Reasonable Middle Ground demographic?

On current polling, of the minor parties, only NZ First has a shot of returning to Parliament, and that’s assuming Richard Prosser can keep his mouth shut until the election (I don’t include the Greens as a minor party these days).  The Conservatives are on 1.5%.  Wouldn’t it make much more sense for the Right to just euthanise ACT, drop the threshold, and hope that Colin can pull in enough votes to get over the line?  Who knows how many hard-blue Nat voters would strategically jump ship to ensure their party wasn’t dependent on Winston?  And to those voters, getting from 1.5 to 4 looks a hell of a lot easier that 1.5 to 5.

Are the Nats just that stuck in an antidemocratic, anti-MMP mindset?  Do they still harbour dreams of ruling alone, even though it’s probably impossible in general and much less so when you’re going for a third term and the wheels are starting to come off the wagon?

This post is almost entirely made up of questions to which I have no answers, but I’m genuinely puzzled.  Spin me your theories in the comments.

Cabinet vs Shadow Cabinet: the identity politics

Just because I’m a numbers nerd, here’s a breakdown of a few key factors in the National and Labour top 20.

The Labour list is taken from here; National from here.

Gender, identity and bumping uglies

Labour’s lineup is 35% women, 100% cisgendered, 15% queer.

National is 30% women, 100% cisgendered, 5% queer.

Race and origins

Labour is 20% Māori, 5% Pasifika and 75% Pākehā.  One MP was born overseas (Su’a William Sio).

National is 15% Māori, including Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges, whose Māori ancestry is mentioned in their Wikipedia articles.  One MP was born overseas (Tim Groser).


Labour is 60% electorate MPs, and three were born in their electorate or thereabouts – Damien O’Connor, David Parker (having formerly held Otago), Chris Hipkins.

National is 80% electorate MPs, and six were born in their electorate or thereabouts – Gerry Brownlee, Anne Tolley, Nathan Guy, Chris Tremain, Nikki Kaye, and, technically, Bill English.


As far as I can tell, all 40 are currently able-bodied.

17 out of 20 on Labour’s list and 18 out of 20 on National’s have a university education.  Both parties have two members with a stint at Harvard mentioned on their Wikipedia page:  David Cunliffe, Shane Jones, John Key and Hekia Parata.

Does that make you think?

[Daily Blog reposts] The future of politics – when you’re living in the future

This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 14 March 2013.

I’m writing this post as I groove along to the dulcet tones of Parliament TV streaming live (yay for living in the future), awaiting the second reading of the Marriage Equality Bill.

The Twitter feed is buzzing (except for those poor souls who had to trade their smartphones for the sheer awesomeness of being there in person).  Facebook has been positively spammy with the weight of updates from people urging their online friends to email their MPs and like this page and watch this video (and defriend the bigots who you only friended because you were at school together.)

This is the future of political conversation.  And as Bomber’s post on Facebook proportionality shows, some parties are a lot more prepared for it than others.

Labour tries – bless them – but their website design is horrible, their blog is dire, and their Twitter engagement runs the full spectrum from robotic to trolly.

The Greens obviously do a lot better.  They just seem to get it, and I’m desperately trying not to draw any conclusions about the demographics involved because then I get accused of hating old white men again.

National?  A few shining examples, at least of MPs (e.g. Tau Henare) who are completely willing to embrace new media and run with it, but otherwise still paddling around watching the social media wave go past them, happy to catch it the next time around.

But what does it mean?  When people aren’t buying newspapers, aren’t watching the ads on the telly (if they’re watching the telly at all), when a lot of people prefer to let their friends and favourite celebrities filter the news of the day for them?  The parties who are there already, and who get it, and who know how to get their messages across and be part of a real conversation without sounding fake are going to get the job done.

Since you’re reading a blog right now, I’m going to assume you’re part of the internet-savvy population.  So compare how you feel knowing Katrina Shanks declared that “filesharing is actually an illegal activity” (yes, ALL filesharing) in the House, with the Green Party kicking off a campaign to protect our beaches by inciting a little online rivalry.  Or, notwithstanding the fact you may feel the same way about Reddit that I do, Gareth Hughes running an Ask Me Anything thread.

Two of those things are examples of finding ways to use online communication to interest people, especially young people,  and make them feel that they’re playing a part (even if it’s just a cute little gesture of parochialism.)

One of those things is a guaranteed way to make most people who understand Teh Interwebz think twice about voting for a party which would let you be in charge of anything technical (see also: Clare Curran.)

Social media almost certainly won’t be the one big decisive factor of Election 2014, or even 2017.  But it’s also not a passing fad which parties can get away with ignoring.

Might I cheekily suggest they start by realising that we bloggers aren’t all a bunch of “anonymous” people “behind darkened curtains”?

Rino Tirikatene in the Hooooooouse

Literally!  And taking it to Dr Pita Sharples, who gave answers so not-on-the-topic that Lady Gardiner couldn’t have done better.

Long may Rino Tirikatene ask Shane Jones’ questions for him.

See also: Morgan Godfery – Symbolism vs substance: is the Maori Party doing anything?


This not-really-a-post brought to you by my flubbing the scheduling, which meant two went up last night.

Speeches to fap to Vol. II

Well we’ve got news for SkyCity: unlike other political parties we didn’t take your campaign donations and we didn’t go to your corporate box at the rugby; your tools of crony capitalism don’t work with us because we work for the people of New Zealand and if the people of New Zealand tell us to turn off the tap on your blood money, then we bloody well will.

Dr Russel Norman, being a badass dude.

The only poll that matters is on election day

So, recent polls have shown a minor upward blip for Labour.  A minor downward blip for National.  Ergo, David Shearer must immediately appear on TV to extrapolate why and make big sexy claims about how The Gap Is Narrowing and We Will Clearly Return To The Treasury Benches In 2015 2014.

Any time in the next month or so, another poll will appear showing a minor blip upward for National, and a minor blip downward for Labour, and then it’ll be John Key’s turn to brag about how The Public Clearly Supports Our Direction and Labour Has No Vision For Noo Zilnd.

And so it will continue.  Even the people who openly state that they know better – e.g. some of my fellow bloggers and commenters on The Standard – will still try to make something of the trend, or the historical poll biases in play, or calculate which political headline hit at the plum point of the polling period and thus explains the result.

The only poll that matters is election day.  And any politician – but especially one whose party is still sucking bigtime compared to the glory days of not that long ago – needs to say only one thing when a “favourable” poll result comes through:  the only poll that matters is election day.  If you must, throw in a key message about The Voters Will Decide or something.

Because as soon as you buy into the idea that that one favourable poll means something, you’ve bought into the idea that the next unfavourable poll means something.  As soon as you say look an upward trend you’ve handed your opponent the right to retort nope, it’s a downward trend as soon as they can scrape two data points together.

Sure, keep doing your internal polling, if you really want to run a political party on the basis of amoral populism instead of having principles and putting your case to the people of New Zealand and trusting in that democracy thing we have to accept or reject your arguments. If you must.

But please, pollies.  (Especially David Shearer.)  Stop dignifying bullshit landline polls like they mean anything, especially this far out from an election.  Or, if you must, stop complaining later on that the media are only interested in shallow numbers stories instead of Big Serious Policy.  You’re feeding the monster, you clean up its shit.

Consider the variables.  Weather.  Ministerial resignations.  Expense scandals.  Winston Peters, John Tamihere, Colin Craig, John Ansell.  Epsom, Ohariu, the Maaori seats.  David Cunliffe, Judith Collins.  No Rugby World Cup.  Shifting voter demographics.  Turnout.

Consider that election day is actually a bit of a big deal and many people may be wavering between two or three options as they enter the voting both.  Greens, Labour, Mana?  Dunne or Shanks?  Make a statement with a Green candidate vote or compromise your real principles to boot out Paula Bennett?

Polls in 2012 mean fuck all for Election Day 2014.  Tell the journos that the only poll that matters is on election day, and get on with your bloody job.

Sex workers also never send me biased surveys, unlike the PM

… but then I guess Prime Minister-ing isn’t a business, so Auckland Council won’t be clutching their pearls over it.

Like many people, I today received a wonderfully personal piece of mail from my local Nat, with a lovely little survey because the National Party are very, very interested in my views, specifically my views as a likely mortgage-holder, given how they spin the Promised Land of Returntosurplus:

Operating in surplus helps keep mortgage rates lower for longer.

Seriously, that’s the first sentence after the heading “Getting back to surplus.”  I guess the old lines about Spending Within Our Means and Running A Country Like A Household were getting old and tired so John Key traded them in for a younger, peppier trophy slogan.

Anyway, the fun bit is obviously the survey.  Clearly in consultation with Larry Baldock Serious Survey Creators they’ve carefully tailored the questions and options given to ensure a fair, unambiguous result.  Like when they ask you to “tick the three issues that are important to you” – because you obviously can’t be focusing on more than three things at a time, peasant – and your options include:

Selling minority shares in four energy SOES and Air New Zealand

Raising achievement and accountability in schools

and my personal favourite

Rolling out ultra-fast broadband and investing in roads and rail

Oh, so sorry, you want kids to do better at school but don’t give a fuck about scaremongering Teacher Unions Eat Babies myths?  Too bad!  You’re maybe okay with a little partial energy privatisation – I mean, Labour is, for fuck’s sake – but you really don’t want to risk a return to ridiculous airfares?  Too bad!

And above all, don’t you fucking dare think that we could maybe look at some basic IT infrastructure without building ROADS.  MORE ROADS FOR STEVE JOYCE! ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOADS andalsosomerail.

You’re then asked about the most important local issue to you – presumably to justify slapping Local Nat MP’s face on the front – and finally, which party you always, or usually, support.  Where your choices include all political parties with at least one MP in Parliament … except Mana.

I guess they just ran out of space.

Dear Epsom voters: please elect Colin Craig

All I’m saying is, should Banks get kicked out on his ass over being an allegedly horrifically corrupt douchewad, and whatever the result we’ll still have two and a half more years of political buffoonery to endure, can we at least make the National-led government reliant on someone who uses Maire Claire polls as a basis for policy?

Ounce of prevention, pound of cure, etc etc

The government (at least, the National and Act parts of it) have signalled they’ll veto Sue Moroney’s bill to extend paid parental leave on the grounds that it would cost too much.  (May I just say as an aside, GO SUE!)

Zetetic at The Standard has shown that in the first place, compared to such fucking trainwrecks as the “Roads of National Significance” (coming soon to a negative-cost-to-benefit-ratio near you!) extended paid parental leave is fucking chump change.

But I’d like to address a second point:  the rightwingers’ basic lack of understanding as to how this stuff works.

One of the arguments for things like paid parental leave (and early childhood education, and early intervention and rehabilitation of youth offenders, etc etc) is that, beyond just being a sign that your society is caring, compassionate, and supportive of not-traditionally-valued non-income-generating work (piff, socialism), it pays itself off.  No, not in the current financial year, nor even in the current term of government, but within a generation (no long time if you actually care about things beyond your own net wealth balance sheet).

You pay parents to spend more time with their infants now, you get smarter, more connected, more caring, more “productive” adults later.

But the right don’t get that (and to an extent, I might argue Labour doesn’t get it either, given their usual willingness to fight battles on a right-determined field).

And given the right like to make stupid analogies about governmental budgets being like household budgets (wherein households can print their own money) etc, here’s one back at them:

Refusing to extend paid parental leave, ignoring the longterm benefits, on a household scale, is like crying “But I can’t afford to buy flour, sugar, and butter for $10 now!  I have to cut my spending so I can buy a $30 cake on Saturday!”

Of course, to extend the analogy further, on Saturday they’ll no longer be running the household, having fucked off to the Wairarapa for a wine-tasting weekend, so why the fuck do they care if someone else has to buy $30 cake because there’s no ingredients in the cupboard?  That $10 now could get them <5L of petrol!