20 July 2014
A war against the Innocent
Distressing scenes on television remind us daily of the troubled world we live in. Perhaps it has always been this way – or maybe we are now more connected than we have ever been – but the world seems more troubled now than it has been for a while.
We are of course referring to the tragic shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft over the Ukraine as a result of their conflict with Russian-backed insurgents, as well the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Both events are causing the loss of innocent lives. Even here on the other side of the world, we have victims in their wars.
Both issues have the potential to escalate with extremely serious consequences, particularly the downing of the passenger aircraft. This heinous act has exacerbated what had been a localised conflict into an international war crime. Retribution will follow, and will most likely turn on Russia for supplying highly sophisticated weaponry to the Russian backed militia. Russia’s denials of its involvement and potentially allegations that it has tampered with material evidence from the crash scene will deepen the world’s animosity towards Putin’s Russia.
It will now be much more difficult for European leaders to on the one hand vocalise concern about the Ukrainian-Russian conflict while on the other do nothing because they need Russia’s natural gas. And it will be harder for the US to remain a credible guardian of the free world if their only response is words of sympathy from their president.
From major international skirmishes to minor ones at home
It’s been a busy weekend for minor party politics. Both NZ First and the Conservative Party have been holding their annual conferences. You could say it’s been a bumper weekend for cheerleaders and bunting retailers!
The showdown between these two minor parties will be one of the interesting sub-plots of the election (which is only two months away!).
Minor parties will find the going tough this time around. Unlike the scenario in 2002, when National’s vote imploded and dispersed to other parties, today the National Party is as strong as it has ever been and may well build on its 2011 vote.
In short, there will be very few windfall votes coming out of National. The minor parties will have to fight for every vote, and they will have to do it on the charisma of their leadership, the strength of their policies, and the resources they have to reach voters.
On the charisma stakes Winston Peters is a clear winner. On the resources front, the Conservative Party wins – it not only has funding from Colin Craig but an additional $500k from a single donor as we reported last week. On the policy front, it’s pretty much even – in fact so much so that this week Peters accused Craig of plagiarising NZ First policies!
To its credit the Conservatives have been very clear on a number of points:
- It has four key policies: binding referendum, one law for all, tougher penalties for criminals, and tax policy.
- It has one bottom-line should it form a coalition: binding referendum.
- It has confirmed it would work with either National or Labour.
NZ First on the other hand has a much broader slate of policies (its 2014 manifesto has 30 policy areas), it will not say what its bottom line issues are, and it also will not rule out working with either Labour or National.
Conceivably, the contest between NZ First and the Conservatives could see both losing. Both need to reach the 5% threshold and both are some way from it (the latest Ipsos poll has NZ First at 2.6% and the Conservatives at 1.3%).
This is why the East Coast Bays electorate is so interesting, and why it’s so much of a dilemma for National.
If National pulls Murray McCully out of the race and gives the nod to Colin Craig, Winston Peters is likely to contest the seat. That would give Peters huge publicity and a potential to not only poil Craig’s chances of winning but perhaps even securing an electorate lifeline that they too need. The risk of gifting the seat to NZ First would simply be too great for National to do a cup-of-tea deal with the Conservatives.
Poll signals crisis for Labour
Two polls out this week signal problems for Labour. The Ipsos poll has Labour at 24.9% and the 26.5% in the latest Stuff/DigiPoll, its worst rating for 15 years. Both polls put National at just under 55%.
The bad news for Labour is the reality that its recent policy releases are having no impact whatsoever. It shows voters have switched off Labour.
There is actually nothing much Labour can do in the eight weeks that remain. It is facing the very same crisis National faced in 2002. It is stuck with an unpopular leader and has policies that are not resonating with middle NZ.
Labour’s greatest threat now, is not National, but the Greens, who are cleverly positioning themselves as an alternative to Labour. A good campaign by the Greens could see the gap between the parties close to just a few percentage points. That would pose a serious long-term problem for Labour, which risks becoming marginalised as the trade-union party. Labour could only recover from that doomsday scenario by replacing David Cunliffe and ditching its trade unionist links. The former will be easy, the latter virtually impossible.
Incentive pay for MPs
It’s fantastic to see others picking up issues raised by 5PM. The NZ Initiative (what was the Business Roundtable) is, as part of its Next Generation Series of Debates, debating the notion: “Should New Zealand tie MPs and Ministers’ salaries to a multiple of the average national income?”
This is something that has been debated by 5PM supporters, and a policy adopted: “A backbench MP’s salary should be set at 1.5 times the average individual income (approximately $68,000) and indexed to annual changes in average income levels.”
The Greens have also picked up on the public support for the idea, but in a typically conniving way. They would link MPs’ salary increases to household income – the catch is they would not alter the starting point! The base would be today’s salary of $148,000 for a backbencher. That’s actually pretty typical of the socialist Greens – window dressing while at the same time making sure they receive more than the people they claim to represent. That is true to form socialist ruling class privilege.
Last week we asked: Do you believe, in principle, that there should be a legal mechanism allowing the public to seek the removal of judges?
On this readers were clear. 98% said YES, 2% NO.
All comments are posted on our Facebook page and include:
Judges work for the public, paid from public taxes so of course there should be accountability if a judge is believed to be out of kilter with public opinion on sentencing. Audrey.
Judges must be free of political interference and/or influence. However, they should not be unimpeachable – they must be accountable, the same as everyone else. Edwin.
They are not infallible. Whatever the mechanism, it cannot be based on peer review as they are effectively a closed society and unlikely to impartially censure one-another. Mark.
Yes, but who judges the judges? Bryan.
This week our poll asks: Would you like to see Winston Peters and Colin Craig go head to head for the electorate seat of East Coast Bays?
Don’t forget to vote, visit the www.5pm.org.nz website and look on the right hand sidebar.
The 5PM Facebook Page
We are also interested in what 5PM supporters think of the leaders of the political parties.
If you would like to help, please visit our Facebook page (HERE) to share your impression of the party leaders. In particular we are looking for the key words you would use to describe the leaders.
And finally, please don’t forget to help us spread the message about 5PM! Our policies of equal rights, binding referenda and all the rest, would have a very positive impact on the future of New Zealand. You can see all of the 5PM policies HERE.
Frank and Muriel Newman
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