- The biggest winner was National.
- The biggest losers were Labour, Internet-Mana, Act, and the media.
Here are the talking points as we see them, and our thoughts about the future.
- National’s success. National achieving an election night majority is a remarkable and historic achievement, as is winning a third term with an increased share of the vote. John Key’s election night speech showed how professional he and his top echelon are. They know what they need to do to stay in touch with the majority of the electorate. John Key is on the cusp of taking a place in history as one of New Zealand’s most outstanding politicians. Of all the parties in Parliament they are the only one not requiring a major rethink of their positioning.
- The failure of the Internet Mana Party to attract only 1.26% of the party vote. The Internet Party failed to achieve any of its objectives – and it failed to use its apparent internet skills to mobilise those who would otherwise not vote, to vote for them. Dotcom was right to take the blame for the failure. Voters saw through the tie up of Internet and Mana – they regarded it as a sell-out of principle to satisfy the motivations of founder Kim Dotcom. Laila Harre’scredibility has been destroyed – a fair outcome for someone who sold out principle and distorted reality throughout the campaign. We expect the Internet Party to disappear, and Mana to become the radical hub of the Maori movement, organising hikois from hell.
- The defeat of Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau. The electorate has delivered Hone a lesson in right and wrong. He has paid a high personal price for grabbing Dotcom’s money and influence instead of holding onto his principles. The question is whether Hone will take personal responsibility, or whether he will continue to see himself and Mana as victims. Labour’s Kelvin Davis will be a far better MP than Harawira. Davis believes in opportunity and education as an answer for Maori progress; Hone has a victim mentality and believes in handouts. The Te Tai Tokerau seat is now Labour’s to hold for a very long time.
- All but one of the Maori seats have returned home to Labour. With Te Ururoa Flavell holding his seat and potentially bringing one more MP in on the list, the Maori Party will be seen by National more favourably than either United or Act. It is highly likely National will appease Maori interests while they can ride on the back of Maori Party support. The first step will be appointing Flavell the new Minister of Maori Affairs. Don’t expect National to suggest the abolition of the Maori seats or a hardening in its attitude towards Maori rights. Labour will no doubt attempt to target Flavell’s seat in 2017.
- Dirty politics. The dirty politics of Nicky Hager and Kim Dotcom strengthened rather than harmed National. There are two lessons from their unfortunate interventions: political stunts designed to manipulate an election are counterproductive, and money alone will not buy an election.
- Labour’s routing. David Cunliffe is deluded if he genuinely believes Labour’s worst poll result since 1922 is the result of dirty politics. Labour MPs have misjudged the electorate by thinking 1930s style trade unionist policies of greed and envy is the pathway to government. If Labour is serious about its future, it needs to make some fundamental changes. It needs to change the leader, but that alone will not be enough. It also needs to eject the unions, which is unlikely given it’s a party controlled by the union movement. Labour’s response to this historic loss is going to get ugly.
- The Green’s too failed to achieve their election objectives. They wallowed in half truths and lies about the “poor and dispossessed” and competed against Labour with handouts. We believe the Greens have hit a glass ceiling of support from their constituency. Its highest support came from Wellington Central (28%), Rongotai (25%), Auckland Central (21%), Dunedin North (22%), Mt Albert (20%), Port Hills (16%) and Christchurch Central (15%). This appears to reflect their support from young voters and females from well-to do professional households in big cities. Without that support they would be a 6% fringe party of environmental alarmists. The Greens have placed themselves in a cupboard by sitting to the left of Labour. They are a long way from replacing Labour as the main opposition party and are now at risk of losing their third largest party status to NZ First.
- Capital Gains Tax is dead. The message is loud and clear – any party that promises more taxes is making their election very difficult indeed. Labour and the Greens were foolish to campaign on a CGT. It shows how distorted their sense of reality is. They don’t understand the average Kiwi plus or minus one standard deviation responds to aspiration – they want a better future for themselves, but through their own enterprise, not from the handouts of others.
- The collapse of the Act Party vote to just 14,510. In the words of leader, Jamie Whyte, Act’s worst case scenario eventuated – one MP. While it will be part of the government, a caucus of one is in no position to demand anything – it must take what it is given. Act is now a Peter Dunne type party, and has some serious issues to deal with it its wants to be any more than that – including leadership. It seems impractical that their sole MP is not the leader. The problem for Act is David Seymour has no parliamentary experience and is short on life experience. In hindsight, the Party should have gone with the experience and safe pair of hands in John Boswawen (a former Minister) for their leader and Epsom candidate.
- Christchurch. National holding the seats in Christchurch is an endorsement of the way it is handling the earthquake rebuild. All credit to Gerry Brownlee for that. Rebuilding a city is complex and fraught with difficulties.
- Napier. Won by Labour’s Stuart Nash, due to strong polling by Garth McVicar from the Conservatives who split the centre-right vote. Had the Conservatives targeted this seat much earlier they may have secured an electorate accommodation.
- NZ First vs Conservatives. The battle between NZ First and the Conservatives was won by NZ First – increasing their vote by 2.05% against 1.32% for the Conservatives.
- Conservatives. A winner by increasing their vote from 2.8% to 4.1%, but a loser because all their votes were wasted. A strong brand but needs to campaign smarter, and appear more as a party and less as a personality cult.
- Winston. The next three years for NZ First will be about building the party for 2017. They now have some new talent in their caucus, especially Ron Mark. He may be their future. We expect Shane Jones will also join what will become a centre party with some real clout and longevity.
- The Special votes. The overall seats may change once the 250,000 special votes are counted. If the Greens pick up an extra seat as they expect, it is likely to be at the expense of Labour or the Maori Party. Labour loosing a seat would see former trade union boss Andrew Little gone.
- The media. As a collective, the media hunt like hounds. In this election they have failed to drill down into policies to question the lines fed to them by party PR people. Largely the public looked past all the media noise to the real issues. They, like we, just got sick of the sideshows. Unfortunately, the bigger questions like the capital gains tax and the big lies like income inequality, affordable housing, poverty, the effects of an increase in the minium wage… were not addressed in any critical manner by the mainstream media. We note there are some exceptions – as there always are – but these were not the norm. We think this is primarily due to the media’s fixation with sensation – either the reporting it of it, or the making of it, when none existed. Too few were prepared to put in the unpaid hours of research required to really understand issues like the capital gains tax. Don’t get us wrong, there have been great snippets. TV3’s coverage of the dispute between Dotcom and his former staff was a good one. But these good points were the exception.
We are pleased the election is over – we could not endure the smug and trite mannerism of David Cunliffe, nor the righteous piety of the Green co-leaders, for much longer!
Many thanks for reading these newsletters over the last 32 weeks. We have appreciated your support and feedback. We set up the Five Principles Movement to provide a policy framework that we believed would benefit New Zealand – and we used a democratic process to add new policies suggested and approved by you, our supporters.
We have been encouraged by the frequency with which issues raised in our newsletters have become part of the political discourse, perhaps by coincidence but perhaps because they found their way into the public arena; so we hope that in our own way 5PM has helped to influence the future direction of New Zealand.
Like John Key, we believe New Zealand is a great place to live and has a fantastic future. We think it will only remain so if we vigorously protect the rights of individuals against the corrosive policies of parties that think they know better than the public.
We will be taking a break from our weekly 5PM newsletters for the time being.
Frank and Muriel Newman