Internet Mana Party

Labour and the polls

When Andrew Little was first elected to the Labour leadership last year, everyone I knew seemed a little dumbfounded. No one, whatever their political stripes, thought him a good choice, with their reasons generally ranging from his apparently humourless personality to his union credentials. Labour had doomed itself, was the general consensus.

Of course, Mr Little then failed to make a right hash of things. In fact, with his “Cut the crap” soundbite, he got a fair bit of positive press coverage, and seemed to have united many Labour Party doubters behind him.

Nonetheless, despite that good initial run of form from him, the mood from the streets of Gisborne, Rotorua and wherever else I wandered remained circumspect. People expected Little to come a cropper sooner or later (perhaps sooner rather than later), and they were hardly likely to switch allegiance to (or back to) Labour until the party had shown it could offer some degree of basic competency.

On Sunday, we had the first television poll of the year: TV3’s Reid Research poll. There was good news for Labour – it was on 29.1%; up 3.5% (or up 4% on its election night result) and close to the near-respectability figure of 30%. And 55% of voters thought that Mr Little was “potentially a better match for Mr Key than his predecessors”.

Leaving aside the usefulness or otherwise of including the word “potentially” in that last polling question, the results really aren’t great news for Labour. For a start, National was up 5.3% to 49.8% (or up 2.8% on their election night result). Labour’s rise in support didn’t come from National…

It’s the post-election summer, and until this frenetic last week, politics has been off everyone’s agenda. With no media exposure, the smaller parties have suffered:

  • The Greens were down 5.1% to 9.3% (or down 1.4% from election night), having had little more than bad publicity since the election after their lacklustre 10.7% showing.
  • NZ First is on 6.9%, down 1.9% on its election night result (although down just 0.2% on the pre-election TV3 poll).
  • The Conservatives are on 2.7%, down 2.2% from the last TV3 poll and down 1.3% from the election.
  • Internet Mana are on just 0.6%, down 1.4% from the last TV3 poll and down 0.8% from the election.

Labour and National have basically just profited from the usual post-election lack of exposure that the minor parties tend to suffer. Labour’s 29.1% leaves the party no closer to governing. National’s back in governing alone territory.

And Andrew Little’s preferred Prime Minister rating was just 9.8%. It’s not a dreadful debut, but it’s still 2.5% less than the terminally disliked David Cunliffe was polling.

Really all that can be said about the TV3 poll results are that there is still more than two and a half years to run until the next election, so it’s early days yet. Plenty of time for Little and Labour to build on an error-free Parliamentary term. Or plenty of time for an implosion.

Internet Mana : the divorce

So the Internet Mana Party is no more. As 3News reports, a letter has been sent to the Electoral Commission to confirm that the relationship has been terminated.

It’s hardly surprising. Given Kim Dotcom’s post-election acceptance that he’d poisoned the public mood against Internet Mana, it was only a matter of time before the Mana Movement and the Internet Party parted ways.

Admittedly, just before I headed to Melbourne last weekend, disappearing off the social media grid and ignoring the existence of news from the homeland, there were strange reports of the Internet Mana Party intending to soldier on through in unity to 2017, of Dotcom intending to continue his role as Internet Party puppet master, and of Dotcom preparing to export his failed Internet Party experiment to the United States.

Nonetheless, Dotcom had previously been bewailing his supposed technical insolvency. Given that the lure of the Internet Party for Hone Harawira had essentially been Dotcom’s money and public profile, a Dotcom who is broke and poisonously unpopular is a Dotcom with nothing of value to offer Mana.

In the wash-up, Dotcom was a cancer to everything he touched, politically. His Moment of Truth, rather than finishing John Key, almost resulted in National governing alone.

Laila Harre went from being a principled doyen of the Left to just another hypocritical sellout. And her theft of the Greens’ intellectual copyright as she left to follow the money means that no other party will be touching her for the foreseeable future.

In Waiariki, Mana’s Annette Sykes was supposed to take out Te Ururoa Flavell, finishing the Maori Party for good. She came third. Meanwhile, Flavell romped home, bringing with him Marama Fox.

And of course Hone Harawira lost his seat of Te Tai Tokerau. With no Parliamentary budget, no Dotcom gravy train, and a much-reduced public platform to keep him in the headlines, Harawira will struggle to re-take his old seat. If Kelvin Davis is smart, he’ll be spending the next three years touring every square metre of his electorate (with his travel funded by Parliament, of course), ensuring that Harawira doesn’t get a look-in in 2017.

Harawira staked everything on Dotcom, and the gamble proved disastrous. With the Internet Mana split now confirmed, the two component parties can now fade off into political oblivion.

Rebirth of the Poll of Polls

So, how did my Poll of Polls do? Pretty rubbish really… The rapid rise of NZ First and the Conservatives during the last half of the campaign didn’t come through in my results, and there certainly seems to be something systemic about the Greens’ ability to fall short of their poll results come election day.

So, I’ve been playing around with the numbers, and have messed with my algorithm to produce what should (hopefully) be a more accurate beast. The changes involve further front-loading of the weighting of new polls (so that the Poll of Polls responds more quickly to meteoric rises a la NZ First and the Conservatives), updating the in-house polling bias offsets, and introducing industry bias offsets (to hopefully deal with issues such as the systematic overly high poll results for the Greens or the lower on average results for NZ First, compared to election day results).

The Poll of Polls is therefore reborn, all ready for today’s Roy Morgan poll. If Labour needed any further evidence that the public think the party is in a hopeless state of disarray, this is it. The party hits a new Roy Morgan low of just 22.5%. National also slumps, hitting 43.5%.

The Greens are the big winners, hitting a record high of 17.5% – cold comfort, given their relatively lacklustre election result. Of the remaining minor parties, NZ First is on 7%, the Maori Party is on 2%, ACT is on 0.5%, United Future is on 0.5%, the Conservatives are on a record high of 5%, and Internet Mana is on 1%.

So how does the new (hopefully) improved Poll of Polls look?

National: 46.1% (-0.9% from its election result)

Labour: 24.6% (-0.5%)

Greens: 11.8% (+1.1%)

NZ First: 8.3% (-0.4%)

Maori: 1.2% (-0.1%)

United Future: 0.3% (+0.1%)

ACT: 0.7% (nc)

Internet Mana: 1.6% (+0.2%)

Conservative: 4.2% (+0.2%)

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

National: 59 (-1 from its election result)

Labour: 32 (nc)

Greens: 15 (+1)

NZ First: 11 (nc)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 0 (nc)

Conservative: 0 (nc)

Given National’s drop in the Roy Morgan, and the Greens’ outlier of a result, it’s not surprising to see National lose a seat to the Greens. Whether the Greens can hold anywhere near their Roy Morgan support in other upcoming polls remains to be seen…

The Right bloc sits on a total of 61 seats, compared to 47 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance, meaning National could continue to govern with the support of both United Future and ACT.

The deconstruction – what went down

So, in the end it wasn’t even close. Unless the special votes are dramatically out of kilter with the votes counted on election night, National has the numbers to govern alone.

The worse-case scenario now for National is that they lose a seat to the Greens, meaning that National would need one of either ACT or United Future to pass legislation. It’s not such a terrible worst-case for the Nats – both ACT and United Future are entirely dependent on National for their continued survival; they wouldn’t be giving National too much stick. Besides, as Graeme Edgeler writes at Public Address, if the special votes are distributed in the same proportions as in 2011, there’ll be no change to the makeup of Parliament.

So how has National managed to defy the laws of electoral gravity, while Labour plumbs new depths, and the minor parties are all left licking their wounds? For me, there are five main issues.

Firstly, the public were happy with our current economic stability. On The Nation, just before National released its tax “policy”, Bill English couldn’t highlight a single new idea that National would bring to the table to spur economic growth. It turns out the public weren’t too unhappy about that. People presumably looked at the economic mess that exists in the US, the EU and across the ditch in Australia, and thought that things were actually pretty good here. Labour’s ideas might have sounded interesting, but would they work? Do I trust Labour to mess around with Kiwisaver rates, and what will the effect be on my weekly take-home pay?

Secondly, for almost three years (and another three before that, if you include the Goff years), Labour has presented itself as a chaotic pack of self-absorbed in-fighters, too busy playing identity politics and sticking the knife into opposing factions to give a damn about Middle New Zealand. Labour may have stayed on message with grim determination during the actual campaign, but by then it’s a bit late. Staying on message for six weeks cannot outweigh more than two and a half years of self-mutiliation. The public had already made up its collective mind that Labour were a pack of muppets.

Thirdly, the public were happy with our current political stability. Put simply, Internet Mana scared the hell out of people. I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve talked to who weren’t necessarily National Party fans, but who wanted Kim Dotcom’s hands nowhere near the levers of power. Those people likely voted National. The Left may point to ACT or Colin Craig, and ask what’s the difference? Well, part of the reason Colin Craig didn’t get the endorsement he wanted was that National’s polling indicated National would take a 2-3% hit if they gave Craig a seat, so there’s not necessarily much of a difference there. And ACT simply isn’t seen as a threat these days; it’s been dependent on National for so long that it’s been politically neutered. Internet Mana, on the other hand, was a frightening unknown; a Frankenstein mix of hard-left activism and big money.

Fourthly, Dirty Politics largely wiped out any emphasis on policy. Yes, the policy was out there, and Dirty Politics almost didn’t feature during the leaders’ debates, but a huge chunk of the election campaign was lost to it. The minutiae of the allegations were largely lost on the public. Judith Collins made an easy villain, and she resigned – case largely closed. Dirty Politics wasn’t seen as a reason to change a Government.

Finally, the Moment of Truth. It was the moment where Kim Dotcom took his credibility out behind the bike sheds and hit it with both barrels, making himself (and the Left, by association) look like idiots. But it also inspired a large dose of parochialism in the dying week of the campaign. “I’m not going to be lectured to by a bunch of foreigners” – it was a phrase I heard rather a lot of, in various permutations. On The Nation yesterday, David Farrar told Lisa Owen that his polling for National showed a jump in National’s support following the Moment of Truth.

Kim Dotcom and his Moment of Truth may have handed John Key those final few seats he needed to attain the ability to govern alone.

 

So, predictions…

I’ve been keeping track of the polls with my Poll of Polls (final update here), but of course polls technically aren’t prediction devices. They ask the question, “If an election were held today/tomorrow”, and are therefore only so useful when it comes to predicting what people will do in a few days time.

Likewise, Poll of Polls’ are generally fairly slow at adjusting to sudden events. They help cancel out statistical noise, but sometimes when a party shoots up in the polls it’s not statistical noise; the party actually is significantly more popular than it was the previous day, week or month.

The rise of NZ First and the Conservatives is a case in point. The final pre-election polls from each of the five main polling companies shows a spread of 6.6% to 8.4% for NZ First (an average of 7.6%), while my Poll of Polls has them on just 6.3%, outside the spread altogether.

Likewise, the final polls for the Conservatives show a spread of between 3.3% and 4.9%, while my Poll of Polls has them on 3.3%, at the very bottom of the spread.

Then there’s the perennial issue of whether the polls are inherently biased. Are they missing important swathes of the voting population, resulting in fundamentally skewed results? My Poll of Polls adjusts each poll based on how far above or below the industry average that polling company is. It doesn’t adjust for whether the polls are inherently out in relation to election results., largely those results can change quite markedly from election to election.

There are a few bias-adjusted predictions out there. Over at the Dim-Post, Danyl McLauchlan Poll of Polls applies a significant downward adjustment to National, and a significant upward adjustment to NZ First (there are other adjustments, but those are the big ones). I think his adjustments are too large, but there you go… I guess we’ll soon know just right or otherwise he is…

Danyl has given his predictions for five parties, heavily couched with 2% bands:

  • National 42 – 44%
  • Labour 22 – 24%
  • Greens 13 – 15%
  • NZ First 7 – 9%
  • Conservatives 5 – 7% (although he further couches his prediction by noting that the recent controversy over the resignation of Colin Craig’s press secretary might drop the Conservatives below 5%).

And Gavin White has published his bias-adjusted predictions for the parties he has “good data” for:

  • National – 45%
  • Labour – 26%
  • Greens – 11%
  • NZ First – 9%
  • Maori – 1.3%
  • ACT – 0.8%
  • United Future – 0.6%

My gut feeling prediction?

  • National 46%
  • Labour 26%
  • Greens 12%
  • NZ First 8%
  • Conservatives 4%
  • Maori – 1%
  • United Future – 0.2%
  • ACT – 0.5%
  • Internet Mana – 1.9%

Now let’s see how wrong I am come Saturday night!

Poll of Polls update – 19 September 2014

It’s time for the final pre-election Poll of Polls update! We’ve had the last Herald Digipoll and Fairfax Ipsos poll results this morning, so we’re good to go. (If Roy Morgan suddenly publish a three-day poll this afternoon, then bugger ’em!)

In the Herald Digipoll, there’s a minor fall for National, down 0.4% to 48.2%. Labour rise 1.3% to 25.9%, while the Greens fall back 0.5% to 11%.

NZ First are sitting pretty on 8.4% (up 0.3%), while the Conservatives fall of the pace, down 0.5% to 3.3%.

For the remaining minor parties, the Maori Party is on 1.1% (up 0.4%), Internet Mana is on 1.0% (down a large 1.3%), ACT is on 0.5% (up 0.2%), and United Future is on 0.2% (up 0.2%).

In the Fairfax Ipsos poll, National slump a massive 5.1%, but that still leaves them on a relatively respectable 47.7%. Labour meanwhile rises handsomely, up by 3.7%, but that leaves them on a still disappointing 26.1%. The Greens lose ground, down 1.0% to 12.0%.

NZ First is on 6.6% (up 2.2%), while the Conservatives miss out on the 5% threshold in yet another poll, hitting 4.5%, despite increasing 0.9%.

The Maori Party is on 0.9% (down 0.1%), United Future fails to register, ACT is on 0.3% (down 0.4%) and Internet Mana is on 0.9% (down 0.5%).

So here’s how the Poll of Polls ends up:

National: 47.6% (-0.1%)

Labour: 25.9% (-0.1%)

Greens: 12.6% (-0.1%)

NZ First: 6.3% (+0.2%)

Maori: 1.0% (+0.1%)

United Future: 0.1% (nc)

ACT: 0.5% (nc)

Internet Mana: 1.9% (-0.1%)

Conservative: 3.3% (+0.1%)

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

National: 60 (nc)

Labour: 32 (nc)

Greens: 16 (nc)

NZ First: 8 (nc)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 2 (nc)

It’s uneventful final update, with no movement in the seat count, and just minor movements in the party vote stakes. Labour drop to a new low, but that’s almost par for the course these days.

That means that the Right bloc remains on a total of 62 seats, compared to 50 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance, meaning National could continue to govern with the support of both United Future and ACT.

Poll of Polls update – 18 September 2014

We’ve had the final pre-election One News Colmar Brunton poll tonight, so it’s the second to last Poll of Polls update before the election, with the Herald Digipoll and Fairfax Ipsos polls due out tomorrow (although you can already find the Digipoll results if you look on Wikipedia – that’s what happens when you release the percentage changes and expect that no one will do the maths…).

National drop 1% to 45%, leaving them well and truly in danger zone territory. Labour remains static on 25%, while the Greens fall 2% to 12%.

NZ First comfortably waltz back into Parliament with 8% (up 1%), as opposed to the Conservatives, who may have gone up by 0.4%, but still remain below the 5% threshold on 4.4%.

For the remaining minor parties, the Maori Party doubles its vote from 0.8% to 1.6%, Internet Mana is on 1.8% (up 0.4%), ACT is on 0.6% (down 0.6%), and United Future fails to register (down 0.2%).

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 47.7% (-0.2%)

Labour: 26.0% (nc)

Greens: 12.7% (nc)

NZ First: 6.1% (+0.2%)

Maori: 0.9% (nc)

United Future: 0.1% (-0.1)

ACT: 0.5% (nc)

Internet Mana: 2.0% (nc)

Conservative: 3.2% (nc)

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

National: 60 (nc)

Labour: 32 (-1)

Greens: 16 (nc)

NZ First: 8 (+1)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 2 (nc)

In the party vote stakes, National continues to fall, dropping another 0.2%. They’ve lost half a per cent in just 4 days. Meanwhile, NZ First continues to rise, breaking past 6% for the first time this year.

NZ First’s party vote gains are enough to see it take a seat off Labour, who therefore lose the seat they won off Internet Mana last update.

That means that the Right bloc remains on a total of 62 seats, compared to 50 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance, meaning National could continue to govern with the support of both United Future and ACT.

Meanwhile, in Te Tai Tokerau…

On Monday evening, while Kim Dotcom was busy throwing his credibility under a bus, Maori Television was delivering his party further bad news, in the form of their poll of the Te Tai Tokerau electorate. That poll showed Hone Harawira just one point ahead of Labour’s Kelvin Davis – 38% to 37%. The Maori Party’s Te Hira Paenga was well behind, on just 9%.

Of course, as Harawira said, he’s been in that position before, and won. In 2011, the sole poll of Te Tai Tokerau electorate showed a neck and neck race, before Harawira went on win with a relatively comfortable 6% majority.

If Harawira loses Te Tai Tokerau, the Internet Mana Party is toast. Which meant that the Maori TV poll provides the Maori Party with the perfect excuse to call for some utu-exacting strategic voting, by telling its supporters to vote for Kelvin Davis. After all, Harawira hasn’t exactly been silent about his intention to destroy the Maori Party this election.

At the outset of the election campaign, the Maori Party couldn’t risk a declaration of war against Harawira. If they’d openly declared an intention to not field a candidate, or to tell their supporters to vote for the Labour candidate, they risked the possibility that Labour and Internet Mana might engage in strategic reprisals in Waiariki, Te Tai Hauauru and Tamaki Makaurau. Now, however, it’s far too late for such shenanigans from Internet Mana and Labour (not to mention that the Maori TV poll of Waiariki showed Flavell on 50%).

So will the Maori Party declare open war, and call for strategic voting? Hone Harawira certainly seems to think it’s on the cards. At a meeting in Omanaia, he reportedly told the crowd:

“Things have just got real tough for me. I’ve heard that the Maori Party is considering standing their man down and giving their votes to Labour’s [Mr Davis] as well.

“So the fight for this seat has just become the kind I really like, which is us against the rest. I’m upset about it, because it’s tough enough in Parliament on your own. I take it also as a bit of a compliment.”

The Maori Party don’t seem to know exactly what they want to happen. Te Ururoa Flavell stated:

“[Strategic voting has] been a part of our strategy meetings for a while, but the official line is that Te Hira Paenga is standing as the candidate. We’ve endorsed him.”

However, that endorsement wasn’t categorical, with Flavell refraining from confirming that he actually wanted his supporters to vote for the Maori Party candidate: “Everyone in the Tai Tokerau can make their own decisions.”

If the Maori Party want to make an unequivocal declaration of war against Hone Harawira and Internet Mana, they’ve got one day to do so. In the meantime, Harawira is playing the sympathy card…

UPDATE:

And just to complicate matters, Winston Peters has thrown his weight behind Kelvin Davis, describing him as “by far the best person for the seat”. At a meeting in Paihia, the NZ Herald reports Peters as saying:

“I’m from up north. I see the need for some consistently strong Northland voice that is speaking for the interests of this province, that has been largely Cinderella-ised, marginalised and forgotten. And that voice cannot be contaminated with an arrangement by a crooked German that’s been here for five minutes.

“I’ve got no doubt that NZF voters on that [Tai Tokerau] roll are going to be voting for Kelvin Davis.”

Te Tai Tokerau will definitely be one to watch on Saturday night!

UPDATE 2:

Things keep moving at speed up North! Maori TV’s Maiki Sherman has just tweeted that the Maori Party executive have asked their candidate, Te Hira Paenga, to stand down, but that he’s refused.

#MaoriParty in damage control. There is a rift over #TeTaiTokerau. Executive wanted Te Hira Paenga to stand down – he refused.

There’ll be more on Maori TV’s Te Kaea programme at 5.30pm.

Poll of Polls update – 17 September 2014

Two new polls out today – this afternoon’s Roy Morgan, and this evening’s 3News Reid Research poll.

In the Roy Morgan poll, National rise to 46.5% (up 1.5%), while Labour slumps 2% to 24%, and the Greens drop an even larger 2.5% to 13.5%.

It’s a great poll result for NZ First, who rise to 8.0% (up 2%). It’s their second best result from any major polling company this year, beaten only by the 8.1% they achieved in the latest Herald Digipoll.

For the remaining minor parties, the Maori Party hits 1.5% (up 1%), United Future rises from zero to 0.5%, ACT loses half of their support, dropping from 1% to 0.5%, and there’s no change for Internet Mana and the Conservatives, on 1.0% and 3.5% respectively.

The 3News Reid Research poll, meanwhile, is a very different beast. National achieve their worst result this year from any major pollster, hitting 44.5% (down 2.2%).

It’s not great news for Labour though, who also drop – down 0.5% to 25.6%. It’s yet another mid-twenties result – in fact, it’s the twentieth major poll in a row in which Labour has failed to get to 30%.

The Greens are up 1.4% to 14.4%, while NZ First has another great result, hitting 7.1% (up 1.2%).

The big talking point though is the Conservatives. They’re on 4.9% (up 0.2%); so close to the 5% threshold it’s frightening. Of course, Reid Research is the only polling company that has them above 4%, so it remains to be seen whether they’re right and everyone else is wrong…

For the remaining minor parties, Internet Mana are on 2.0% (up 0.3%), the Maori Party is on 1.1% (down 0.2%), ACT is on 0.1% (down 0.2%), and United Future is on 0.1% (up 0.1%).

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 47.9% (-0.3%)

Labour: 26.0% (-0.1%)

Greens: 12.7% (+0.1%)

NZ First: 5.9% (+0.2%)

Maori: 0.9% (nc)

United Future: 0.2% (+0.1)

ACT: 0.5% (nc)

Internet Mana: 2.0% (nc)

Conservative: 3.2% (+0.2%)

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

National: 60 (nc)

Labour: 33 (+1)

Greens: 16 (nc)

NZ First: 7 (nc)

Maori: 2 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 2 (-1)

In the party vote stakes, the biggest mover is National, falling 0.3%. That puts them at their lowest result since early June. Labour also fall (again) though, and they reach (another) new Poll of Polls low.

With National and Labour predictably falling during the election campaign, it’s the rise of the minor parties, with another Poll of Polls high for the Greens, NZ First and the Conservatives.

Seat-wise, last update Labour loses a seat to Internet Mana, by the most minuscule of margins. This update, again by the most minuscule of margins, they win it back.

That means that the Right bloc remains on a total of 62 seats, compared to 51 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance, meaning National could continue to govern with the support of both United Future and ACT.

Out in space, no one can hear you scream

From the sidelines of relevance, ACT has been screaming and waving its hand in a desperate bid to be noticed. The bold (some may use less charitable descriptive language) policies have been coming thick and fast recently – abolishing the Overseas Investment Office, getting rid of the Resource Management Act, arming shopkeepers…

They’re designed to grab headlines, to give party leader Jamie Whyte a few life-giving gulps of publicity oxygen. If publicity is supposed to get you votes, it doesn’t appear to have working for ACT. Following their campaign launch and OIO and RMA announcements, the last Colmar Brunton had them on a year-long high of 1.2%. Unfortunately, they could then only manage a combined 1% from the latest Digipoll and Ipsos polls.

Things are only going to get worse this week. Tonight, Kim Dotcom unveils his Moment of Truth. Whatever Dotcom and Glenn Greenwald have to say tonight, be it bunker busting explosion or damp squib, the media won’t be talking about much else. Certainly, the upcoming War of the Documents between Greenwald and Key won’t be a simple day-long skirmish.

Minor party policy will well and truly be taking a back seat. ACT and United Future might as well just concentrate on Epsom and Ohariu respectively, and give up on the rest of the country. Given that Colin Craig has no hope of winning an electorate seat, Dotcom’s Moment of Truth might very well be the final nail in the coffin of the Conservatives’ run for the 5% threshold.

In fact, the coming week is likely to be a policy-free vacuum full stop. Which means that for the opposition, they’d better hope that whatever Dotcom and Greenwald have to say is compelling and easy to understand.

David Cunliffe, Russel Norman and Meteria Turei had better get used to the idea that for the next four days, the only soundbites they’ll be giving will be on spying. For the Greens, that focus might still pick them up a few votes, given their long-term activism against our spy agencies. For Labour though, Dotcom’s Moment of Truth may prove catastrophic. All eyes will be on John Key and whatever he may end up declassifying. With four days of Key v Dotcom & Greenwald, David Cunliffe and Labour Party policy won’t get a look in.

The stakes are high. If Dotcom’s “proof” that Key knew about Dotcom before the raid isn’t watertight, Internet Mana will be a laughing stock. Likewise, if the Greenwald v Key debate about mass surveillance gets lost in a maze of paperwork and semantics, Labour and the Greens can probably give up on being anything other than bit players for the final week of the campaign. The only winner is likely to be Winston Peters, sweeping up the disillusioned.

The fortunes of Labour, the Greens, and Internet Mana are now firmly anchored to two men. Roll on 7pm…