david seymour

Labour and the moral high ground

Since Andrew Little began his tightrope walk regarding whether Northland voters should or shouldn’t vote Labour, there has been much philosophising as to whether a “dirty deal” did or did not go down.

To my mind, quite clearly, no deal occurred. A deal requires some form of reciprocity. It requires agreement between parties. In Epsom, over the last few elections, a fair amount of conversation obviously went on between National and ACT; in 2011, the stage-managed “cup of tea” made it perfectly clear that a deal had been done.

In Northland, however, Labour’s actions were unilateral (unless some extremely surreptitious and plausibly deniable discussions occurred, that will only surface in a decade’s time in someone’s political autobiography). Labour realised they had no show of winning, figured Winston had reasonable odds of severely embarrassing National, and changed their message to give him the best possible shot. Serendipitous for Winston, but not something he had sought.

Nonetheless, given Labour’s (in)actions in Northland, can they continue to claim a moral high ground when, in 2017, National again gives David Seymour and/or Peter Dunne a free ride in their respective electorates?

Many journalists, commentators and, of course, Right-aligned bloggers, have been happily labelling Andrew Little a hypocrite. Moral high ground lost. The right to lambast National for Epsom-style deals gone forevermore.

Such analysis has, predictably, enraged many of the good folk over at The Standard (see ‘By-elections are FPP‘), while others on the Left such as Rob Salmond and Danyl Mclauchlan provide their reasoning as to why Northland and Epsom are Different. As Mr Salmond writes:

Here are three core differences:

  1. Labour was never going to win Northland, whereas National could win Epsom just by clicking its fingers. Labour’s motivation is to engineer a loss for its major opponent, while National is trying to engineer a loss for itself. Which of those do you think is more legitimate in a competitive environment?
  2. Labour’s actions in Northland were quarantined to Northland only. They only affected who is the MP for Northland. National’s deals, on the other hand, are specifically designed to work around New Zealand’s rules about proportionality. National’s deals try to engineer a 5-for-1 deal on ACT MPs (which is exactly what they got in 2008.) National’s deals rort MMP; Labour’s avoid FPP vote-splitting. Those are not the same thing.
  3. Labour’s actions were unilateral. Labour did not receive any assurance of anything from Peters before making the call to change tack. Labour looked at the facts on the ground, and changed its plan accordingly. National, by contrast, makes a big show of obtaining a quid pro quo in advance. Labour had a strategy; National made a deal.

Personally, I agree with the reasoning of Salmond, Mclauchlan and Bunji at The Standard. Yes, by-elections are FPP. Yes, there was no “deal”. Yes, Northland was never Labour’s to win. Northland and Epsom are indeed different.

The problem though is that, at a glance, they also look suspiciously similar. Which is why Gower and Garner et al are so easily able to characterise Labour’s actions as hypocrisy. And explaining is losing.

For those who care, the distinction between Northland and Epsom is patently obvious. To the casual by-stander though, Labour and National are just as bad as each other. And no amount of explanatory blogposts are likely to change that…

And John Key didn’t consult either…

Following yesterday’s discovery that there will be no minor party involvement in the oversight of our spy agencies, Andrew Little was castigated for his failure to consult with either the Greens or NZ First regarding his nomination of David Shearer to the Intelligence and Security Committee.

As I wrote yesterday, there is a legal requirement for the Leader of the Opposition to consult with all other opposition party leaders before making a nomination. This puts Labour in the strange position of essentially having to argue that, despite having already announced Shearer’s nomination, consultation can still occur prior to the nomination being officially made. (At present, the nominations aren’t yet official.)

John Key was approached for comment on Little’s decision, but as far as I can see, none of the reporting yesterday focussed on the issue that both Andrew Little and John Key had consultation requirements. Section 7 of the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996 requires the Leader of the Opposition to consult with all other opposition party leaders, but  it also requires the Prime Minister to consult with the leaders of all parties in government.

John Key has confirmed he’ll be nominating National’s Chris Finlayson and Amy Adams. Surely, given that ACT, United Future and the Maori Party all have confidence and supply agreements with National, Mr Key must therefore have consulted with David Seymour, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox before coming to his decision?

Well, Peter Dunne yesterday tweeted:

FWIW no-one has consulted me under either 7(1)(c) or 7(1)(d) [the relevant consultation sections of the Act]

Maybe Mr Key, like Little, intends to get around to “consulting” with the other party leaders prior to the nominations of Finlayson and Adams becoming official.

Nonetheless, if that’s the defence that both major party leaders intend to rely on, it makes a mockery of the duty of consultation. What it shows is that both Key and Little consider the statutory duty of consultation as nothing more than a nuisance; an exercise in ticking boxes before doing precisely what they want.

And we’re supposed to blindly trust them to protect our rights and interests as they oversee the spies…

UPDATE (18/02/15):

Oddly, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox has confirmed on Twitter that the Maori Party were consulted:

So why was the Maori Party consulted, but Peter Dunne wasn’t? Was ACT?

(Almost) unconditional support : ACT forgets to play its hand

On National Radio’s Morning Report show this morning, ACT leader David Seymour provided an excellent example of how not to negotiate. With Environment and Housing Minister Nick Smith set to announce tomorrow National’s proposed changes to the Resource Management Act, Seymour was asked whether he would be supporting the yet-to-be-announced changes.

The response was a clear affirmative. “It is extremely urgent that New Zealand reforms its Resource Management Act…” Therefore, he’s got National’s back on this one.

So what are the reforms? Well, we don’t know. They haven’t yet been announced.

Does Mr Seymour know? Has he been given a pre-announcement heads up, to ensure that his support is based on some actual intel, or is he simply making the assumption that the changes will be identical (or almost identical) to the proposed changes that were abandoned prior to the last election? It’s an assumption, he confirmed on Twitter to me this morning, based on where Mr Smith’s “thinking is usually at”.

To be fair, it isn’t completely unconditional support that is being offered. On Morning Report, Mr Seymour reserved his right to pull back, should the changes, once announced, be materially different from his assumptions.

Of course, we all know that ACT went into the 2014 election promising to repeal the RMA. Here’s a quote from former ACT leader Jamie Whyte during the election campaign:

The problem is not with the administration of the RMA. The problem is with the very conception of it. The RMA is an assault on property rights that stifles investment and economic growth. The restrictions it puts on using land for residential development are the reason housing is so expensive.

Nonetheless, from a realpolitik perspective, why would ACT simply blindly agree to support National’s proposed changes? If the changes are essentially what National tried unsuccessfully to push through last year, then National will struggle to get support from Peter Dunne or the Maori Party. If National doesn’t want to water down its proposals, then that leaves just ACT. And given ACT’s hatred of the RMA (except, of course, where it stymies intensive development in Epsom), surely this would be a perfect opportunity to press for additional changes?

With National able, on every piece of legislation, to go to just one of ACT, United Future or the Maori Party, opportunities to extract a pound of flesh aren’t going to come along often for those three minor parties. ACT seems to have just blown a prime opportunity to extract concessions on one of the party’s main election policy platforms.

The slow decline of ACT continues

In a way, you’ve got to hand it to ACT. The party’s obituary has been written many a time, as Hide, Brash and Banks fumbled their way along. Everyone was certain that the humiliation of Banks was the end of the line. Nonetheless, defying the naysayers, David Seymour held the seat of Epsom. ACT survived for another Parliamentary term.

Except, of course, that Jamie Whyte, party leader and philosopher-warrior, didn’t make it into Parliament to join Seymour. Immediately following the election, Whyte was in limbo as leader, still in charge, but awaiting the ponderings of the Board as to his future. The limbo is now over – he has tendered his resignation, and the Board has accepted.

Which means that David Seymour is now the leader of ACT. Is this the point where the donors turn off the tap? Where the members shrug and walk away?

Back in the Brash and Banks days, there was the occasional murmur regarding pulling the pin on the ACT name and forming a new party, keeping the donors and members, and jettisoning the public faces of a sullied brand. It must be tempting for the party’s backers to reconsider that option, given the joke that ACT has now become. Nonetheless, the party still has a seat, an MP and an under-secretary position, with all of the funding that goes with that.

And National keeps providing the electricity for ACT’s life support machine. There’s no guarantee that a fresh new libertarian movement would receive a hand up from National. With no electoral seat accommodation, it’s highly unlikely that a new party to National’s right would be able to explode out of the gates to hit 5% by 2017.

Which means that ACT will continue to limp on, its death rattle continuing. Seymour and the Board will talk of rejuvenation and growth, but I can’t see it happening. The best that might happen is that Seymour holds the fort well enough to bring in a second MP next time round. The odds are long, but they’re odds ACT will take because, frankly, they’ve got no choice…

The minor parties – some thoughts & questions

The Greens

They ran a blinder of a campaign. Their polling numbers were looking great, as they closed on 15% in some polls. Then they got just 10.02% on the night (although their vote share is likely to rise by at least a small amount once the special votes are counted – Graeme Edgeler estimates to 10.5% if they got the same proportion of specials as they did in 2011).

What happened? Is it a voter turnout issue? Did the Greens actually slump abruptly in the final days of the campaign? Or do the polls have a bias towards the Greens?

Going forward, the Greens have some big decisions to make. They’ve loudly declared on many an occasion that they want to supplant Labour as the major party of the Left. So do they try for a more centrist approach to grow their vote? There were elements of such an approach in their policy of personal tax cuts to offset the effects of their planned carbon tax. If they want to supplant Labour, that’s what they’ve got to do, but will their membership allow it?

For much of the last term, the Greens were the de facto opposition in Parliament, with Labour failing to fire. Yet in the build-up to the campaign, the Greens offered to campaign together with Labour. The offer had a dual purpose: to show a Government-in-waiting, and to try to reduce the relevance of Winston Peters. Do the Greens go hammer and tongs for Labour’s vote share, or do the two parties attempt to work together to present a united front of opposition?

NZ First

Winston Peters is getting old. For most of last term, he was an embarrassment, lurching from one badly contrived attack to another, each one failing to fire; a collection of not-so-smoking guns. The campaign itself seemed to have rejuvenated him. He certainly saw off the young pretender, Colin Craig, and raised the NZ First vote in the process.

Is he good for another election campaign or will this have been his swan-song? If this is his final term, he’ll be leaving after a comeback of six years without baubles. Winston likes baubles, no matter what he might publicly say, so does he try again in 2017 in the hope of one final Ministerial stint?

The other thing Winston wants is for NZ First to continue on after he’s gone. It’s always been Winston First – no succession plan, no contrary views allowed. He’d like nothing better than to prove wrong all of those critics who for twenty-one years have said that once Winston goes, so too will NZ First.

Ron Mark is back and is being touted as a possible successor. However, if Andrew Williams’ allegations about deputy-leader Tracey Martin are correct, then woe betide anyone who sees themselves as competition to her right of succession! Life in NZ First could get interesting…

The Conservatives

Colin Craig got played by John Key, strung along for just long enough, before being thrown under the bus. Nonetheless, right up until the final few days, Craig and his party ran a remarkably focussed, relatively gaffe-free campaign. Despite being out-manouevered on occasion by Winston Peters, the Conservatives grew their vote share to just over 4%.

It wasn’t enough to get them in to Parliament, but it wasn’t a bad result on a night when National made over 48%. If Craig can keep his core team together, then they’ll have a good shot at breaking 5% in 2017.

The Maori Party

The critics said they were finished in 2014. With Turia and Sharples retiring, Mana were going to wipe out Te Ururoa Flavell, and the Maori Party would perish. Well, Flavell’s still there, with a relatively comfortable majority, and Mana is no more. And, assuming the special votes don’t do something odd, Flavell’s brought in Marama Fox with him, so it won’t be an entirely lonely three years.

If Flavell wants it, National would probably give him the Maori Affairs portfolio. Key doesn’t need to in order to govern, but he’ll be looking to keep Flavell on-side through to 2017. It’ll give the Maori Party some policy gains and keep Flavell’s profile up, and the party will look to remain competitive in seats like Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru.

Internet Mana

And that took care of that then…

The Internet Party was nothing more than a vehicle for Kim Dotcom’s ego and vengeance, and with Dotcom admitting that his personal brand poisoned the combined Internet Mana vehicle, the Internet Party will soon be no more. Dotcom certainly won’t be pouring his money into it, and there’s no real reason for anyone to stick around. Laila Harre’s pay cheque disappears, along with what’s left of her credibility.

Likewise, with no party leader funding for Hone Harawira, and precious few alternate sources of income, the Mana Movement is dead. Harawira took a gamble, sick of being a one man band in Parliament, and it all turned to custard. Annette Sykes did her best in Waiariki, but still came up well short, despite having a full three year campaign and Dotcom’s cash. It’s over.

ACT

Duncan Garner summed it up best when he described David Seymour as being like a five year old about to start High School. Despite winning Epsom (and by all accounts, Seymour put in the hard yards door-knocking to do so), it’s going to be an awkward and ineffectual three years for ACT. Jamie Whyte remains the leader outside of Parliament (for how long though remains to be seen), with Seymour the fresh-faced novice being the voice inside Parliament. Who do the media go to for comment? No one knows…

How do they rebuild? Lord only knows. Their natural constituency is minuscule, and they hold a seat on National’s whim. It’s not a great basis for growth.

United Future

The writing’s on the wall for Peter Dunne. Despite running against new candidates from both Labour and National, and despite having John Key’s personal blessing, Dunne’s majority is just 930. The only MPs with smaller majorities are Nikki Kaye in Auckland Central (648) and Trevor Mallard in Hutt South (378).

The glory days of United Future are long gone. Once upon a time, the worm turned at Captain Sensible’s whim. Now, the Dunne brand is that of a strange political vampire living out some political half-life.

Rebuilding United Future is a laughable proposition. The only question is whether Dunne goes out on his own terms or waits for the inevitable stake through the heart from the good people of Ohariu.

ACT goes for broke

ACT’s campaign launch occurred yesterday. It’s slightly odd that the party would launch their campaign after people have already started voting, but there you go. Keeping their powder dry and all that…

Party leader Jamie Whyte’s keynote speech to the ACT faithful was everything his party would have hoped for – a mixture of hard-hitting attacks on just about every party around (I think the only party he didn’t bother to attack was United Future, which is a good measure of Peter Dunne’s continued irrelevance) and the release of some old-fashioned back-to-ACT’s-roots policy.

Policy-wise, ACT would abolish the Overseas Investment Office:

It has no proper job to do. When foreigners invest in New Zealand, we benefit. There is no injury for the OIO to protect us from.

Likewise, the Resource Management Act would go to:

The problem is not with the administration of the RMA. The problem is with the very conception of it. The RMA is an assault on property rights that stifles investment and economic growth. The restrictions it puts on using land for residential development are the reason housing is so expensive.

The speech will certainly have fired up the troops. Matthew Hooton was aflame with passion about it this morning on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon programme, while David Farrar couldn’t resist quoting extensively from it at Kiwiblog.

The problem ACT faces is that “the troops” really aren’t a significant chunk of the population. The most ACT has polled this year is 1%, while sometimes they’ve failed to register at all. In this site’s Poll of Polls, they’re currently sitting on just 0.4%, not quite low enough to produce an overhang, but well below the approximately 1.3% they need to bring in Jamie Whyte (assuming David Seymour takes Epsom).

ACT needs something that will resonate with more than 1% of the population, and quickly. They’ve tried a return to One Law For All (which was again recapped in Whyte’s speech), but it produced no sparks in the polls. Winston Peters, Colin Craig and, to a lesser extent, David Cunliffe were already on board that particular bandwagon, and the remainder of ACT’s  policy platform obviously wasn’t palatable enough to lure the One Law For All vote from those parties towards ACT.

ACT presumably hopes that there is a significant core of landowners who are sick to death of being told what they can and can’t do with their property by the RMA. (Although, of course, David Seymour has been campaigning on putting greater RMA-style roadblocks in the path of development in Epsom, which seems more than a little ideologically impure or, dare I say it, hypocritical.) Quite who the party is targeting with the eradication of the OIO is less clear. How many large farm-owners can there possibly be who will vote ACT in order to sell their farms to foreigners without having to go through the OIO? Every vote counts, I suppose.

But will the RMA and OIO policy backfire on ACT? Rachel Smalley certainly seems to think so:

He appears to lack the one attribute that every political party leader in this country has, and that is an emotional attachment to New Zealand. Winston has it, so does Key and Cunliffe and Norman. Colin Craig does. Harawira, Harré, Flavell, Turei, Dunne – they all have it in spades. Whyte doesn’t.

It does not concern him if every last acre is sold offshore. Let the market decide, he will say. ACT sees New Zealand as a market, to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.

So will this resonate with voters? No, it won’t. Nothing ACT does resonates with voters. Have a look at the polls – the party barely registers any support at all.

So what will Epsom voters do in light of this? Will voters accept their role as political zombies and do as they’re told, breathing life into the ACT Party? Or will they vote how they wish, perhaps for the Conservatives, perhaps for National, and let nature take its course?

We shall see. Whyte has snatched some headlines with this policy, but at what cost? The philosopher, I think, has gone a step too far with this one.

I’m not sure I agree with Ms Smalley on her conclusion that Whyte’s speech is a step too far. Setting aside ACT’s perennially populist ‘tough on crime’ and One Law For All stances, their policy settings have always been dry and rational (depending on your particular brand of rationality). Epsom voters know that ACT will have little to no sway in the next Parliament, and exist in all practical terms merely to ensure the continuance of a National-led Government. They know there is no chance that National would go along with abolition of the RMA, and a less-than-zero chance that National would buck strong public opinion against overseas asset sales. The calculus is simple: A vote for David Seymour in Epsom is a vote for a further three years of a National-led Government.

Where I do agree with Ms Smalley is with her assessment that ACT’s RMA and OIO policies won’t resonate with voters. The party is going for broke with a headline grabbing speech, but the timing is all wrong. The minor party debates have now been and gone, and the focus will now shift to the remaining Key v Cunliffe debates. Abolishing the RMA and OIO needed to be hammered home weeks ago, when Whyte had easy access to the cameras. Instead, perusing the NZ Herald and Stuff websites this morning, Whyte’s speech has largely sunk without trace.

Jamie Whyte should begin resigning himself to remaining a leader outside of Parliament.

Christine Rankin in Epsom

The Conservative Party have announced that Christine Rankin will stand in Epsom. It’s not surprising, and it won’t make a difference to the election result.

The reason it’s not surprising is that the Conservatives now need every piece of publicity they can grasp. With almost zero hope of winning East Coast Bays, now that John Key has pulled the rug out from beneath Colin Craig, the Conservatives need their face on the evening news as often as possible as they go for the magical 5% threshold. Christine Rankin still has a profile – she’ll get the occasional soundbite on the 6pm news when the Epsom electorate holds a candidate meeting.

Ms Rankin is standing because the Conservatives now have no choice. They’d tried to dial back the odd-factor, selling themselves as responsible possible-partners for National, desperately hoping for an East Coast Bays deal. That’s now gone pear-shaped, and every bit of publicity now counts.

The reasons it won’t make a difference to the election result are two twofold.

Firstly, almost no one will be voting for ACT’s David Seymour because they think he’s the best candidate. His introductory “Hi, hi, hi, hi video” and his appearance on The Nation’s Epsom candidates debate (minus Paul Goldsmith) put paid to that long ago. The good people of Epsom will vote for Mr Seymour because he will resolutely support National. It’s a tactical vote, and almost no votes will flow from Seymour to Rankin. The simple fact is that Ms Rankin has no chance of winning, meaning there’s no tactical reason to vote for her. Her (few) votes will come from conservative National party voters who still don’t understand MMP and aren’t sure whether Paul Goldsmith actually exists.

Secondly, the Conservatives are polling so far below the 5% threshold that a few appearances from Christine Rankin on the evening news will have no appreciable effect on the party’s ability to cross that threshold. The few extra party votes she might garner by standing will still see the Conservatives fall well short of 5%. Likewise, the election result will have to be closer than a barbershop shave for the party votes stolen by Ms Rankin from National to make a difference.

Ms Rankin is an inconsequential distraction, nothing more.

UPDATE:

The NZ Herald reports that:

[Conservative] Party leader Colin Craig says they have polled the electorate, and found the ACT Party isn’t going to win.

Well, I hope his polling company is better than one he used last election, when he predicted he’d win the Rodney electorate, but came third…

UPDATE 2:

It’s also perhaps worth noting that in 2011, the Conservative Party came sixth in the Epsom party vote contest, gaining just 412 votes, and fifth (of eight candidates) in the electorate vote, picking up just 342 votes (not too far ahead of Penny Bright who managed to get 124 votes).

ACT, Goldsmith and Epsom : sublimely ridiculous

Over the weekend, the Epsom candidates appeared on the Nation. Well, three of the four candidates – Paul Goldsmith was apparently too busy campaigning for the party vote. In a nice piece of political theatre, Labour’s candidate, Michael Wood, affixed a photograph of Mr Goldsmith to a bag of wholemeal flour, vowing to wheel out the bag at every future occasion on which Goldsmith fails to front. (The joke might have been funnier though if the flour was white, rather than wholemeal…)

Image

National are of course still denying that they’ve done any deal with ACT, with John Key promising to be fully transparent about any electorate deals. Given John Key’s fundraising dinner for ACT’s Epsom candidate, David Seymour, coupled with Mr Goldsmith’s no-show on the Nation, one would struggle to credibly argue that National intends to vigorously contest the Epsom electorate vote…

The Nation’s candidate debate was also instructive for a number of other reasons.

Firstly, Paul Goldsmith is not a good liar. “Too busy campaigning for the party vote” was the best excuse he could come up with?

Secondly, watching David Seymour’s performance, you’d have to conclude that Mr Seymour is his own worst enemy. Responding to almost every question with pre-programmed answers which bear no resemblance to the question may occasionally make for a good soundbite. Unfortunately, it also makes for terrible television for the poor viewer having to sit through it. I knew David Seymour back in our Auckland University days, when he was chair of ACT on Campus, and he was a talented, witty debater. That talent appeared to utterly desert him, as he answered questions like a robot and tried to talk over the top of his fellow candidates. It wasn’t pretty.

Thirdly, the Internet Mana Party deal and David Cunliffe’s anti-“coat-tailing” stance is making things awkward for Labour and the Greens. The sole hit that Mr Seymour landed on Michael Wood and the Greens’ Julie Anne Genter was over the hypocrisy of attacking electorate seat deals, but being prepared to tell their supporters to vote for Paul Goldsmith.

Fourthly and finally, ACT will happily dispense with ideology in order to get over the line in Epsom. The highlight of the debate was watching Mr Seymour rail against the possibility of Epsom neighbourhoods with eight-storey towers next to their homes, only to be halted in his tracks by Ms Genter interjecting that ACT was the party of opposition to regulation. Getting rid of the Resource Management Act is obviously an ACT policy that applies only outside of Epsom…

After the election, it’s highly likely that David Seymour will be the new MP for Epsom, but based on his performance and the ongoing failure to fire by party leader Jamie Whyte, Mr Seymour will be ACT’s sole MP.

Dinner is the new tea

Everyone needs to eat, even John Key, but it is Mr Key’s choice of dinner companions is now the discussion point du jour, following his fundraising gig for the Maori Party.

Now, it has been revealed that Mr Key will be the guest speaker at an ACT party fundraiser for the party’s Epsom candidate, David Seymour. It’s a lot cheaper to get to this particular dinner – just $200 compared to the Maori Party’s $5,000 per head extravaganza.

Audrey Young notes that this is essentially John Key’s endorsement of Mr Seymour. No cup of tea will now be required.

Act has been a support partner of National for two terms now and Mr Key has already said National could work with the party again. The dinner is an effective signal to the electorate to vote for the Act candidate but give National the party vote.

Not that much of an endorsement was needed. The “good people of Epsom” are well aware that having ACT around increases the chances of National getting over the line in 2014. As Matthew Hooton has often said, Epsom will swallow all sorts of dead rats if it keeps Labour out of office.

Poll of Polls updated – 18 March 2014

The Poll of Polls has now been updated following the latest NZ Herald Digipoll. The NZ Herald poll is certainly bad news for Labour, with the party dropping below 30%, while National hits 50.8%. David Cunliffe’s personal popularity is going through the floor, with a preferred Prime Minister rating of just 11.1%, less even that David Shearer’s worst rating in the Digipoll of 12.4%.

So how does the Poll of Polls look now, factoring in the new Digipoll?

National: 48.3% (+0.9%)

Labour: 31.9% (-1.4%)

Greens: 10.9% (+0.4%)

NZ First: 4.2% (nc)

Maori: 1.0 (-0.2%)

United Future: 0.3% (nc)

ACT: 0.5% (+0.1%)

Mana: 0.4% (-0.1%)

Conservative: 1.8% (-0.1%)
Based on those percentages, the new seat predictions are:

National: 62 (+1)

Labour: 41 (-2)

Greens: 14 (+1)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Mana: 1 (nc)

Despite a two-seat overhang, National could govern alone, while with its United Future and ACT allies, they’ve got 64 seats between them. Labour, the Greens and Mana are left in the dust, with just 56 seats between them.

The gulf between the left and right blocs is now so large that even if NZ First were to make the 5% threshold,* a five-way coalition of Labour, Greens, Mana, Maori Party and NZ First would still be one seat short.

Although the big movement is in the three largest parties, it’s interesting to note what’s going on with the minor parties:

Despite Winston Peters being everywhere in the media lately, he’s gained absolutely no traction in the Poll of Polls. Whether his latest round of interviews and press coverage over the previous few days begins to show results come next update remains to be seen.

For the Maori and Mana parties, their support is slowly slipping away. They’ve had no oxygen for some time, and it seems to be showing.

On the other hand, Colin Craig seems to be proving that not all publicity is good publicity. His very public legal feuding with Russell Norman has yielded many a column inch and media soundbite, but the Conservatives merely slide back 0.1% to 1.8%. Craig hasn’t had much to say lately that’s been on message – although perhaps he’d be wise to first work out just what his message is.

And of course there’s ACT. Perennially written off and lately the butt of all sorts of jokes involving Duelling Banjos, it’s creeping up in the Poll of Polls. Given that the first four of the nine polls currently being weighted in the Poll of Polls showed ACT flatlining on zero, it’s likely that the party will continue to show modest gains for at least a few more months. Of course, none of the polls published this year show ACT even remotely close to getting two MPs, so on current polling David Seymour will cut a lonely figure should he succeed in winning Epsom.

* I arrive at NZ First reaching 5% by taking 0.3% off both National & Labour, and 0.2% from the Conservatives. His votes have to come from somewhere…