Month: May 2014

Pam Corkery? WTF?

So Pam Corkery has been hired as Laila Harre’s press secretary. Apparently Ms Harre discovered this while on air, which, if true, makes one wonder who’s running things at Internet Party HQ. Certainly, this tweet from Jessica Williams (@mizjwilliams) suggests an air of back room disorganisation:

And then after she got off air, Laila Harre made a phone call and found out that it IS true and pam IS her new press sec. lol.

I guess Ms Corkery’s new role makes sense in a ‘good fit with the leader’ kind of way, both Corkery and Harre being former Alliance Party MPs together, back in the 1990s, before Corkery retired in 1999. And I guess she’s got good media contacts, having been a broadcaster for many more years than she was an MP.

But isn’t the defining feature of the Internet Party’s upcoming election campaign supposed to be that it’s about being tech-savvy and online, pulling in those young, previously disinterested voters who will suddenly flock to the ballot box and support Kim Dotcom’s multimillion dollar vehicle of revenge? Both Laila Harre and Pam Corkery are dinosaurs from another political age. I just cannot see how Corkery’s involvement, especially in an important campaign role, can possibly be of benefit to the Internet Party. She’s the antithesis of the Internet Party’s message.

Of course, press secretaries are not the face of a party. How many people (beyond the very worst political junkies) could name John Key’s or David Cunliffe’s press secretaries, let alone Peter Dunne’s or Jamie Whyte’s? (Mind you, how many people could name Jamie Whyte, let alone his press secretary?) However, the press secretary is supposed to be coordinating Laila Harre’s and the Internet Party’s media image across all media. That includes the internet, which is already an area in which the other party’s press secretaries are failing miserably in (see my good friend Matthew Beveridge’s blog, Social Media & the 2014 Election for a daily account of our political party’s social media failings). Why would another old-school media hack like Pam Corkery be any different?

One would hope that the Internet Party has a highly competent team handling the online side of things, and that Ms Corkery isn’t expected to provide them with too much direction. Otherwise, the party’s goal of going for the so-called “Missing Million” online isn’t going to gather a great deal of steam.

Frankly, I think that Laila Harre’s appointment has already put paid to that goal. The Internet Party needed a Richard Branson, not someone intent on creating the Alliance Party Reborn.

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Will Internet Mana actually bring votes to the Left bloc?

In my post yesterday, I asked where the Internet Mana Party’s votes were going to come from? Is the party likely to attract those who have not previously voted, or will it simply take votes from the other parties on the left?

A lot depends on how Laila Harre positions the Internet Party. After all, let’s face it, Hone Harawira’s appeal is to a fairly select demographic – he’s joined forces with Kim Dotcom because he knows that the Mana brand is a tough sell outside of the Maori electorates; it was Dotcom’s money and celebrity that was being counted on to bring in the additional votes that would provide extra MPs.

So far at least, in her maiden speech as Internet Party leader, Ms Harre was more about social justice than internet rights. But will that help change the government? Despite being the wet dream of activists like Martyn Bradbury, Ms Harre surely holds little influence over the so-called “Missing Million”. She’s been a party leader before, 2002 – and her party at the time, the Alliance, got 1.27%. The left may respect her credentials, but she wasn’t exactly a ballot box drawcard in 2002. Twelve years later, has anything changed?

Many on the Left are praising her maiden speech’s focus on social justice, but is that actually going to increase the Left’s share of the vote? Will those who stayed home in 2008 and 2011 suddenly flock to the ballot box because a new social justice party has appeared? Ms Harre may be effective at snaring a chunk of Labour and the Greens’ vote, but that won’t threaten National if there’s simply a reallocation of Left bloc seats.

I doubt many who downloaded the Internet Party’s app and joined the party thought that they’d wind up being part of a new Alliance (as in Ms Harre’s old party, rather than a small-a alliance). Ms Harre therefore walks a fine line between satisfying those who see Mr Dotcom as some sort of fun anti-hero, and those who expect her to promote Marxist social justice policies.

Together, since the Internet Party first appeared in a major poll, the Internet and Mana parties have polled between a big flat zero and 2.5%. Together, they currently sit at combined 1.2% in this site’s Poll of Polls, just below the point where they might bring in a second MP. If they can get up around that 2.5% mark, and some of it comes from National or from those who haven’t previously considered voting, then National may be in trouble. Otherwise, Laila Harre, Annette Sykes and John Minto will simply be replacing Labour or Green MPs.

Internet Mana – chaos theory

Despite seeming to have dropped off the radar for a bit, the alliance between the Mana Party and Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party has finally been confirmed. The new Internet Mana Party is primed and ready for action.

News of the confirmed alliance was closely followed by the leaking of the name of the Internet Party’s leader – stalwart of the left, Laila Harre. It’s an odd choice, and appears to have flummoxed the commentariat. No one can quite work out whether to write off Internet Mana as a bad joke or to view it as a possible electoral game-changer.

The questions are many.

Who will Internet Mana pull votes from? Laila Harre’s natural constituency isn’t exactly the young, tech-loving, non-voters that the Internet Party had previously appeared to have been targeting. Will Internet Mana really be able to bring non-voters to the ballot box or will they simply be pillaging from other parties on the left – the Greens being an obvious major target?

What will Labour do in Te Tai Tokerau? If Labour wants to minimise the Internet Mana vote, it should attack Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau. If Kelvin Davis is allowed to run a strong electorate campaign there, it would force Harawira to concentrate his energies in the North, reducing his nation-wide visibility. Further, if there’s a significant risk that Harawira might lose his seat, prospective voters are less likely to switch their support from parties that are assured a place in Parliament (eg. Labour and the Greens). However, the NZ Herald reports that it understands Labour has considered “pulling its punches” in Te Tai Tokerau. Labour will be worried about what percentage of the left wing vote might be wasted if Harawira is tipped out of Parliament.

What will Mana do in Waiariki? They’ve been campaigning hard for Annette Sykes to unseat Te Ururoa Flavell and eradicate the Maori Party. However, that might not be in the Internet Party’s best interests. The Internet Mana list will begin with Hone Harawira in top spot, followed by Laila Harre, Annette Sykes and John Minto. If Internet Mana get enough votes to bring in one additional MP (between approximately 1.2% and 1.9%), and Sykes wins Waiariki, the Internet Party will have no Parliamentary representation.

Wherever Kim Dotcom treads, chaos follows. Just how much chaos he causes this election campaign remains to be seen.

Poll of Polls update – 25 May 2014

Going head to head, One News and 3News released their post-budget polls this evening, and the results are remarkably similar for National, Labour and the Greens. In both polls, National is above 50% (51% in the One News Colmar Brunton and 50.3% in the 3News Reid Research), while Labour sits at 30% in the Colmar Brunton and 29.5% in the Reid Research poll. The Greens have 11% in the Colmar Brunton and 10.2% in the Reid Research poll. Basically, both polls show an approximate 10 point gap between National on the right and Labour plus the Greens on the left.

Labour have now been below 30% in one third of the last dozen polls, and of those dozen polls the highest they’ve been is 32%. Meanwhile, David Cunliffe’s preferred Prime Minister rankings remain abysmal – he got 10% in the Colmar Brunton poll, against John Key’s 43%, and was still stuck in single digits in the Reid Research poll.

So what of the minor parties?

NZ First falls just shy of the 5% threshold in the Colmar Brunton poll (4.8%), but gets a slightly healthier 5.6% from Reid Research. The Maori Party and ACT fail to get over 1% in either poll, while United Future doesn’t even register. The Conservative Party makes a creditable 2.3% in the Reid Research poll, but a less creditable 1.3% in the Colmar Brunton.

Of interest lately has been the combined fortunes of Mana and the Internet Party, given that the future of their relationship dalliance is soon to be decided. Unfortunately for Mana, they’re barely featuring (0.4% and 0.2%), while the Internet Party failed to break 1% in either poll (0.7% and 0.6%). Together, Colmar Brunton therefore gives them 1.1%, while Reid Research gives them just 0.8%.

So how does the Poll of Polls look now?

National: 46.9% (+0.8%)

Labour: 30.8% (-0.3%)

Greens: 12.0% (-0.4%)

NZ First: 5.2% (+0.1%)

Maori: 1.1 (-0.2%)

United Future: 0.1% (-0.1%)

ACT: 0.6% (nc)

Mana: 0.6% (-0.1%)

Conservative: 1.5% (nc)

Internet Party: 0.6% (+0.1%)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 58 (+1)

Labour: 38 (nc)

Greens: 15 (nc)

NZ First: 6 (nc)

Maori: 1 (-1)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Mana: 1 (nc)

With a one seat overhang, the centre-right bloc of National, United Future and ACT have a total of 60 seats, one short of the minimum required to govern. However, with the Maori Party’s one seats, they’ve got a majority.

For the centre-left, Labour, the Greens and Mana have 54 seats, requiring both the Maori Party and NZ First to make it over the line.

That means that it’s the Maori Party holding the balance of power.

Of course, the Maori Party aren’t looking in great shape. They drop back just enough to lose their list seat that they had previously been holding on to, meaning that Te Ururoa Flavell would be all by his lonesome in Parliament on today’s Poll of Polls results.

Labour drop to a new low, falling below 31% for the first time this year, while the Greens drop back slightly as well.

Things get interesting though if the Mana and Internet parties were to merge and keep their combined vote. They’d drag in a second MP on the list (assuming Hone Harawira keeps Te Tai Tokerau) at the expense of National, meaning that National would require NZ First to govern. The balance of power would therefore switch from the Maori Party to NZ First.

The Greens finalise their list

The Green Party have released their final party list, having had the membership vote on their interim list. The top 20 is as follows:

1. Metiria Turei (nc)
2. Russel Norman (nc)
3. Kevin Hague (nc)
4. Eugenie Sage (+2)
5. Gareth Hughes (+2)
6. Catherine Delahunty (-2)
7. Kennedy Graham (-2)
8. Julie Anne Genter (+5)
9. Mojo Mathers (+5)
10. Jan Logie (-1)
11. David Clendon (-3)
12. Holly Walker (nc)
13. James Shaw (+2)
14. Denise Roche (-3)
15. Steffan Browning (-5)
16. Marama Davidson (new)
17. Barry Coates (new)
18. John Hart (new)
19. Dave Kennedy (+4)
20. Jeanette Elley (-1)

There’s really only one significant change from the interim list – Mojo Mathers bounces up five spots to ninth, whereas in the interim list she hadn’t moved at all, remaining in 14th. Evidently, the party membership rates Ms Mathers rather more highly than do her parliamentary colleagues.

Steffan Browning remains in troubled territory. The interim list had him sitting in 16th spot, and although he’s moved up one spot in the final list, that only just gets him back into Parliament according to this site’s Poll of Polls. With the Greens currently sitting on a high of 12.4%, that would see them bringing in 15 MPs, one more than last election and just enough for Browning to squeak back in.

The Greens’ Tamaki Makaurau candidate, Marama Davidson, will be a little disappointed. She’s switched places with Mr Browning between the interim and final lists, dropping from 15th to 16th. On the Greens’ current wighted-average polling, she’d just miss out.

In the NZ Herald this morning, the Greens seem to hint that they’ll be aiming for 15% of the vote, which they estimate would bring in Browning, Davidson and Barry Coates. That’s certainly higher than any poll this year has had them, although they did reach 14.5% in the second-to-last Roy Morgan poll from earlier this month.

The Judith Collins pistol complaint

Judith Collins fires a pistol at the ESR range. (Acknowledgement: Picture from Ms Collins' Facebook page)

Judith Collins fires a pistol at the ESR range. (Acknowledgement: Picture from Ms Collins’ Facebook page)

So the National Shooters Association (NSA) made a police complaint against Judith Collins for having fired a pistol at an ESR testing facility, but police declined to prosecute. As I was watching 3News earlier in the week and saw their report on the story, my first thought was, “So what?” It’s a highly supervised environment, there’s no victim, and it’s a minor, technical offence at best. Frankly, I’d have been unimpressed with the police if they had laid a charge against Ms Collins, given that they have to follow the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines when deciding whether to lay charges.

But then the TV report noted that police had declined to prosecute, not because of the Solicitor-General’s guidelines, but due to no offence being committed. The police reasoning for this was that they were sure Ms Collins had been under proper supervision at the time she used the pistol.

Unfortunately, that’s entirely irrelevant to whether an offence was actually committed. As the NSA made clear, supervision only matters where the pistol possession occurs “on the range of an incorporated pistol club”, which does not include ESR testing facility.

It’s a little worrying that police don’t appear to have actually read the relevant section of the Arms Act 1983 before firing off their letter. If the letter writer had read s 50 of the Act, they would undoubtedly have then written back to the NSA to inform them, despite a technical offence having occurred, it was not deemed to be in the public interest for police resources to be wasted on a prosecution.

The NSA are apparently considering whether to launch a private prosecution, given that private prosecutions seem to be all the rage these days. My prediction? Someone will tell the NSA that Ms Collins will simply end up successfully applying for a discharge without conviction, and we’ll hear nothing further about this.

But in the meantime, if police could bone up on what the law actually says, that would be terrific…

Horan v Peters – unleashing the ugly

As he looks ahead to the impending election date, Brendan Horan must be feeling aggrieved. New Zealand First’s caucus, mad collection of riffraff that they are, are looking likely to have jobs come 21 September, while Mr Horan is staring down the barrel of definite unemployment.

With election day fast approaching, Mr Horan appears to have made it his personal crusade to ensure that unemployment also comes to Winston Peters and the remainder of his motley crew.

First, there was the allegation that Mr Peters failed to register an interest in a racehorse, closely followed by allegations that Peters was using his Parliamentary leader’s budget as a personal slush fund.

Next came the allegation that NZ First had spent $20,000 in parliamentary funding on software for use in campaigning and fundraising – something which the Speaker is now investigating.

And finally, yesterday came allegations of bullying behaviour.

One their own, and even together, the allegations would ordinarily be well short of troubling Mr Peters’ legendary ability to woo the hearts and minds of the elderly and insane. He could simply have laughed it all off, with a clever quip, and the legions of blue-rinsed women would have continued to swoon.

However, Mr Horan’s baiting of Peters caused the whisky-soaked one to go a step too far in his counter-attack. it’s possible that Peters may have done himself a deal of harm by twice referring to Horan in Parliament as the Jimmy Saville of New Zealand politics. It’s an inexcusable personal attack that can only have turned people away from Peters.

Whether it will do any lasting harm remains to be seen. A few sharp witticisms and the occasional flattering shot of Peters in a double-breasted suit may well cause his followers to quickly forgive and forget. However, Horan (and indeed the National party) will doubtless do their best to keep Peters’ ‘Saville’ comment in the limelight. It’s likely done a lot more damage to Peters’ image than Horan’s allegations.

 

Key justifies murder: ignorance of international law makes it all okay

Hon David Cunliffe: Has the Prime Minister sought or received any advice on whether remote operations such as drone strikes against non-combatants or in non-declared conflicts are compatible with international law?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

The above exchange occurred during Wednesday’s Question Time. What this means is that the United States military sent a drone into Yemen (a country that the US is not at war with), executed a target by missile without trial, and in the process of that execution killed a New Zealander – but the New Zealand government is not even remotely interested about whether the US actions comply with international law.

I’ve previously written about this issue in my post “Extra-judicial murder“, noting that the very least our government should have done is ask the US whether a credible threat existed when the drone missile was fired.

John Key is comfortable in his ignorance. He’s said time and time again that he believes most New Zealanders will have no qualms about the US’s murder of New Zealander, Daryl Jones (aka Muslim bin John, aka Abu Suhaib al-Australi), as Mr Jones / bin John / al-Australi “put himself in harm’s way”. Mr Key is probably correct; most New Zealanders probably don’t give two hoots about the manner of Mr Jones’ demise. But that’s not the issue – some things are more important than a glib assertion regarding what the voting majority care about.

In this country, we don’t take people behind the chemical sheds and shoot them, simply because we don’t like their belief system and the company they keep.

Look at what Mr Key says in a report from stuff.co.nz:

Key disagrees with critics who say drone killings are execution without trial, in which ordinary people are massacred.

“For the most part drone strikes have been an effective way of prosecuting people that are legitimate targets,” he said this morning.

“But there are examples of where things have gone wrong and there are always examples, sadly … where things go terribly wrong and where civilians are killed.”

“An effective way of prosecuting people”? Prosecuting? There is no charge laid. There is no prosecution case put forward in open court. There is no opportunity for a defence to be offered. There is simply a missile launched, from behind the safety of a computer screen in another country, against a person who opposes America’s interests; against a person who is not an enemy combatant and who is not even in a war zone.

And when a New Zealander ends up as the collateral damage of a drone strike, our government doesn’t even ask questions. Daryl Jones wasn’t the target of the strike that killed him. The US doesn’t appear to have made out any case for Mr Jones providing a credible threat to US security. He was therefore a civilian casualty, in the wrong place at the wrong time, hanging with the wrong crowd.

But our government doesn’t want to ask questions. Ignorance is bliss.

John Campbell’s conspiracy theory takes a leap too far

When I was a young lad, I read Erich von Daniken’s Chariots of the Gods. I was an instant convert to the idea that aliens had visited the earth in ancient times and helped build human civilisation.* I even wrote a book report on Chariots, enthralling the teacher with my “conclusions” regarding alien contact. The teacher noted that my leaps in logic were disturbing. Needless to say, my grade for that report was somewhat less than an ‘A’.

Watching John Campbell’s attempt to tie John Key to the initial surveillance of Kim Dotcom via a somewhat dubious recruitment process of Ian Fletcher, the current director of the GCSB, felt somewhat like reading von Daniken. There are a number of suspicious circumstances, but to try and link them requires too many leaps of logic.

So in mid-December 2011, just prior to Ian Fletcher’s appointment, Mr Fletcher met with Mr Key, Simon Murdoch (the acting GCSB chief at the time) and Hugh Wolfenson (who oversaw the spying on Mr Dotcom), which was, coincidentally, also just prior to the commencement of the GCSB’s spying operation on Dotcom. It’s no smoking gun, and nor are any of the other dates (for a complete list, check out this post at the Standard). Essentially, there’s just a list of dates on which high-powered people met with each other, but the thing is, that’s just what high-powered people do – they fly around the world and meet with people.

Like all good conspiracy theories, John Campell’s relies on people seeing what they want to see. If they believe that John Key is a lying devil beast, then they’ll make the necessary leaps of logic.

I’m with John Key on this one:

“I mean, honestly, I have some respect for John, but when you do two years and come up with absolutely nada, then you do what he did – set a whole lot of assumptions to music.”

* It was only in later years that I discovered that von Daniken was a convicted fraudster, that most of his “evidence” has already been comprehensively debunked by the time I picked up Chariots of the Gods, and that von Daniken had publicly admitted to making up “evidence” that featured in some of his later books. What can I say? I was young…

Poll of Polls update – 22 May 2014

The new Roy Morgan poll was released today and, in what is becoming a bit of a habit with Roy Morgan polls, the lead has changed yet again. National’s up 3% to 45.5%, just ahead of the combined Labour/Greens vote, with Labour back out of the 20s on 30.5% and the Greens down slightly to a still respectable 13.5%.

Labour may be up, but it’s still not great news. Last Poll of Polls update, I noted that of the last ten major polls released, Labour had been below 30% in three polls, and in only one of those ten polls had they been above 32%. Well, now, of the last ten major polls released, Labour has still been below 30% in three of them, but they haven’t been above 32% in any of them. That’s not a good run of form.

Of the other minor parties, there’s very little change. NZ First remains steady on 6%, the Maori and Mana Parties remain on 1%, and Act is steady on 0.5%. The Conservatives make a slight increase from 0.5% to 1%, while the Internet Party drops 1% to 0.5%. United Future disappears entirely, going from a desultory 0.5% to an even sadder 0%.

So how does the Poll of Polls look now?

National: 46.1% (+0.1%)

Labour: 31.1% (-0.2%)

Greens: 12.4% (+0.2%)

NZ First: 5.1% (+0.1%)

Maori: 1.3 (nc)

United Future: 0.2% (-0.1%)

ACT: 0.6% (nc)

Mana: 0.7% (+0.1%)

Conservative: 1.5% (-0.2%)

Internet Party: 0.5% (nc)

Based on those percentages, there’s no change in the seat predictions, which remain:

National: 57 (nc)

Labour: 38 (nc)

Greens: 15 (nc)

NZ First: 6 (nc)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Mana: 1 (nc)

With a one seat overhang, the centre-right bloc of National, United Future and ACT have a total of 59 seats, two short of the minimum required to govern. However, with the Maori Party’s two seats, they’ve got a majority.

For the centre-left, Labour, the Greens and Mana have 54 seats, require both the Maori Party and NZ First to make it over the line.

That means that it’s the Maori Party holding the balance of power, although a minuscule adjustment would result in that dubious honour being handed to Winston Peters.

It’s worth noting that the Left v Right gap is now at its lowest point this year, at 4.2% – down from a high of 7.7% in mid-March. That’s no thanks to Labour, who are at their lowest Poll of Polls rating this year. Thankfully for the Left, National have dropped just over 2% from their mid-March high of 48.3%, while the Greens have continued to climb, up from 10.9% on 11 March to 12.4% today.