Te Ururoa Flavell

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?

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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.

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.

Where to from here for National?

If John Key wants to have a stab at a fourth term as Prime Minister, there’ll be no one in the party to stop him. He’s weathered the Dirty Politics and Moment of Truth storms, and come out the other side with an increased majority.

Now it’s time for a clean up. Jason Ede has already resigned, which is perfect timing for National. An announcement prior to the election would have looked like an admission of guilt, just prior to people walking into the polling booth. This way, it’s lost in the honeymoon maze, and when the House returns to sit, the opposition will have lost another line of attack.

You’d hope that National’s leadership has learned its lesson from the Dirty Politics saga, and will keep people like Cameron Slater at bay. National may have romped home, but Brand Key has lost a touch more of its shine in the process. National’s result wasn’t necessarily as much an endorsement of John Key’s charms as a rejection of the state of the Left.

And hopefully, National MPs (and prospective MPs) lower down the food chain learn from the reaction within National to the Dirty Politics claims regarding Slater and Lusk’s involvement in the Rodney electorate selection process. If anyone finds out you’ve contracted Slater or Lusk to run interference for you, you’ll hopefully be toast.

Of course, the big issue for National, as they seek re-election in 2017, is the same one that kept them awake at night over the last three years – coalition partners. The election results for ACT and United Future were risible. National will give them roles in this new Government though, partly as a reward for six years of loyalty, partly in the vain hope that they might against all odds surge again in popularity and offer National more assistance at getting over the line in three years time.

Likewise, the Maori Party will be offered a role again too. Te Ururoa Flavell has been very clear that the Maori Party cold work with both National or Labour. National will be keen to keep Flavell onside.

But what if that’s not enough? What if ACT and United Future remain unappetising minnows, and Team Key needs a few more seats next time? Does National build up the Conservatives in the hope that they’ll supplant NZ First?

Once the honeymoon fades, Steven Joyce and the rest of the strategy team will undoubtedly be pondering what needs to be done to ensure a victory in three years time.

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.

Tamaki Makaurau race wide open

Maori TV yesterday released their poll results for the seat of Tamaki Makaurau, and the race is far too close to call. This is Pita Sharples’ seat, with his retirement forcing the Maori Party to put up a new candidate, Rangi McLean. Despite the interminable difficulty Labour had in finding a candidate, the pundits have long said that  the seat was still Labour’s to lose. Not so, according to Maori TV.

The poll places the Maori Party’s Rangi McLean ahead, but by just 1%. The results are:

  • Maori Party (Rangi McLean) – 28%
  • Labour (Peeni Henare) – 27%
  • Mana (Kereama Pene) – 14%
  • Greens (Marama Davidson) – 7%

Of course, with 14% undecided, the race could easily go either way. Nonetheless, the Maori Party will be more than happy to have their nose ahead in a race they wasn’t supposed to be winnable.

In the party vote, Labour are, unsurprisingly, clearly ahead:

  • Labour – 37%
  • Maori Party – 17%
  • National – 13%
  • Internet Mana – 12%
  • NZ First – 11%
  • Greens – 9%

With the Maori TV polls showing Te Ururoa Flavell streets ahead in Waiariki, and the Maori Party candidates holding slim leads in Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru, the Maori Party have been handed a series of motivation boosters. Despite being written off in two of those seats, and with questions having been raised about whether Flavell could hold Waiariki, the Maori Party are still well and truly alive in the race. If that doesn’t provide a campaign incentive to the troops, I don’t know what would.

No surprises in Ikaroa Rawhiti. Except that Mana aren’t higher.

Maori TV have been working their way through their polling of the seven Maori seats. There’ve been some surprises, namely the Maori Party being ahead (albeit by a nose) in Te Tau Hauauri, and Te Ururoa Flavell holding a 29% lead in Wairiki.

The most recent poll result is for the Ikaroa Rawhiti electorate. Unsurprisingly, Labour are convincingly out in front in both the party and electorate votes. The electorate vote  results in the Maori TV poll were:

  • Labour (Meka Whaitiri) – 37%
  • Mana (Te Hamua Nikora) – 21%
  • Maori Party (Marama Fox) – 18%
  • Greens (Henare Kani) – 6%

In the party vote, the results are as follows:

  • Labour – 45%
  • Maori Party – 14%
  • Internet Mana – 13%
  • National – 10%
  • NZ First – 10%
  • Greens – 8%

As a resident of Gisborne, Ikaroa Rawhiti is my local Maori seat, and I have to say I’m surprised that Mana’s candidate, Te Hamua Nikora, isn’t closer to Meka Whaitiri. Throughout Gisborne, Mana signs are everywhere, while Nikora’s name has regularly featured in the local paper. In contrast, Whaitiri has largely been missing in action. I’d assumed that Nikora’s continued profile since the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election would have produced a closer race, but it just hasn’t happened.

Interestingly though, there’s a significant disparity between Nikora’s personal vote (21%) and Internet Mana’s party vote (13%). Both the Labour and Greens candidate are polling less than their party vote (understandable for the Greens candidate, given they’re not seeking to win the electorate vote), while both the Mana and Maori Party candidates are exceeding their party’s shares of the party vote. However, Nikora’s personal vote is over a third more than Mana’s party vote share, showing that his personal support is well in excess of his party’s.

In terms of the party vote, the Maori Party will be happy. Despite Te Ururoa Flavell’s rhetoric of winning all seven Maori seats, the Maori Party must know they haven’t a hope in Ikaroa Rawhiti. But to still be coming second in the party vote, albeit only just, will be another good poll result for them.

Poll of Polls update – 28 August 2014

3News Reid Research released their latest poll last night, and it’s good news for almost everyone but the major parties.

National are down 2.5% to 45%. That’s the danger zone – if NZ First is over 5% and National is on just 45% or thereabouts, then the odds are that Winston Peters holds the balance of power.

Labour also fall, down 2.6% to 26.4%. It’s another poll result showing Labour getting less than their abysmal 2011 result, which will be scaring the hell out of a few list MPs.

With both National and Labour falling in this Reid Research poll and the last Herald Digipoll, you’d have to assume that Dirty Politics is having an effect, possibly tarring both major parties with the same brush and squeezing policy out of the debate.

The Greens rise 0.5% to 13.5% – a good result, but they’ll be disappointed they haven’t picked up more of the vote that has fled Labour.

Instead, the big winners are NZ First, up 1.7% to 6.3%, which would see them safely in Parliament, and the Conservatives, up 2.1% to 4.6%, a result that’s close enough to the 5% threshold for swing voters to feel a little confidence that a vote for Colin Craig might not be a wasted vote after all. Whether it’s a one off result for the Conservatives remains to be seen, but it’s a result they needed. Given ACT is going nowhere fast in any poll this year, John Key could perhaps be forgiven for hoping that Christine Rankin takes Epsom in an upset victory. Otherwise, that’s a large chunk of wasted centre-right vote.

Internet Mana gain slightly – up 0.1% to 2.1%. They’re regularly getting at least three MPs in the polls these days, so another poll confirming that will make them happy.

The only losers are the Maori Party (down 0.1% to 0.7%) and ACT (who remain steady on a paltry 0.3%). Nonetheless, Reid Research have just polled the Te Tai Hauauru electorate, which showed the Maori Party candidate winning the seat with a slim 3% majority over Labour, which would provide a second seat (presuming Te Ururoa Flavell holds Waiariki).

Given that there’s only one poll out in Te Tai Hauauru, and it shows a Maori Party victory, I’m adjusting my seat assumptions for the Poll of Polls to show the Maori Party winning two electorate seats.

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

National: 49.1% (-0.6%)

Labour: 27.0% (nc)

Greens: 12.2% (+0.2%)

NZ First: 5.1% (+0.2%)

Maori: 0.9% (-0.1%)

United Future: 0.2% (nc)

ACT: 0.4% (-0.1%)

Internet Mana: 2.2% (nc)

Conservative: 2.2% (+0.2%)

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

National: 61 (-3)

Labour: 33 (-2)

Greens: 15 (-1)

NZ First: 6 (+6)

Maori: 1 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 3 (nc)

Having fallen below the 5% threshold in mid-June, NZ First are finally back in Parliament. Their six MPs come at the expense of National, Labour and the Greens, with the Left and Right blocs both losing three seats.

Also worth noting is the continued rise of the Conservatives. Back in mid-July they had fallen to 1.4%. Now, just over a month later, they’re on 2.2%. It’s still well below the 5% threshold, but they’ve got momentum.

Overall, the Right has a total of 63 seats, compared to 51 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance. With both United Future and the Maori Party providing overhang seats, National’s 61 seats means they can’t quite govern alone, but the Right bloc would still have enough seats seats to not require NZ First.

‘The Nation’ minor party debate – Colin Craig loses, Winston Peters wins

Having spent the weekend in Napier, resolutely not pondering anything political, I got back to Gisborne last night and finally got around to watching The Nation’s minor party leaders’ debate.

Policy-wise, there was nothing to learn. This was a show devoted almost entirely to the spouting of pre-prepared talking points. Here’s my view of how the various leaders performed:

Colin Craig v Winston Peters: This was perhaps the most important clash. Having initially been excluded from the debate lineup, and making an entrance purely because of a High Court injunction, Colin Craig needed to do well to justify his presence. He’d argued in Court that the Conservative Party would be negatively impacted if Winston Peters was given free reign to speak on conservative policy platforms – essentially admitting that the policy platforms of NZ First and the Conservatives are largely identical. Both parties are duking it out for the same pool of voters, and that pool isn’t large enough for both to make it over the 5% threshold.

So who won? In my opinion, it was Peters by a long shot. He wasn’t in particularly hot form, but it was more than enough. Perhaps the defining moment was when moderator Lisa Owen described Mr Craig as Peters’ doppelganger, and asked him to describe why anyone should vote Conservative rather than NZ First. Craig couldn’t come up with a single policy reason. Instead, looking somewhat miffed at the question, he said that the Conservatives were clear that they would work with the party with the most votes, rather than play games a la NZ First. If that’s the Conservative Party’s major point of distinction from NZ First, then it’s game over for Colin Craig.

Winston Peters v Metiria Turei: Given Mr Peters’ long-held antipathy towards the Greens, fireworks were expected between Peters and Turei. As it happened, when Peters was offered the chance to put the boot into the Greens, he declined, instead saying that he gets on with everybody. This was then followed up with, “I get on with everybody who has a reasonable view on a reasonable thing”. What that means is anyone’s guess, but there’s no doubt that Peters is happily engaged in his favourite electioneering past-time – keeping everyone guessing.

Colin Craig v Metiria Turei: As a property developer, Colin Craig is not a fan of “green tape” holding up development. Plus, as Winston’s stunt double, it’s only to be expected that Mr Craig would be anti-Greens. Unfortunately, for Mr Craig, Ms Turei owned him. She held tightly to the party line (“National’s pollution economy”), while Craig’s interjections were banal and resulted in perhaps the defining image of the night – Turei haughtily performing a ‘talk to the hand’ in Craig’s direction.

Talk to the hand, Colin. (Thanks to Stephanie Rodgers at Boots Theory for the screenshot.)

Talk to the hand, Colin. (Thanks to Stephanie Rodgers at Boots Theory for the screenshot.)

Te Ururoa Flavell v Hone Harawira: Love him or hate him, you can’t deny that Hone Harawira has natural charisma. Te Ururoa Flavell, not so much. With everything at stake for the two party leaders in their respective seats, and with both parties fighting for the same pool of voters, neither could afford to have a bad debate. They both stayed on message, with Harawira banging the drum of Maori inequality, and Flavell emphasising a) the real gains made by the Maori Party due to being at the table, and b) that his party is not a proxy of the National Party. Unfortunately for Flavell, there was no passion to his approach. Harawira had the emotional message and the better soundbites. A win on points for Harawira.

Jamie Whyte v the world: It wasn’t a good debate for Jamie Whyte. He was stilted and amateur. Sure, he had some good lines, accusing others of being “communistic” and “neo-racist”, but you get the feeling that he rather prefers the safety of a lecture theatre, where he can espouse his dry rationality to his heart’s content, free from the indignity of moderators who interrupt, opponents who interject, and people in general who laugh at you while you’re talking.

Peter Dunne v ???: In his role as Captain Sensible, Peter Dunne exists in his own separate space. No one bothers feuding with him, because his strongest held view appears to be that people should be able to decide at what age they begin claiming superannuation. And that’s basically how it played out on The Nation. Dunne was there, but you’d struggle to remember much of what he said, apart from that he wants people to be able to decide at what age they begin claiming superannuation. There was some half-hearted sledging from Winston Peters, when Dunne described the anti-land sales position as “xenophobic”, but Peters didn’t seem to think it was really worth his time to bother directing much bile in Dunne’s direction.

Perhaps the most interesting part of The Nation was the panel discussion between Brook Sabin, Bryce Edwards and Lisa Owen over which leaders should have been part of the debate. Which says a lot about the debate itself…

 

 

Like Maori ninjas operating in stealth mode

Best line of the election thus far has to go to Te Ururoa Flavell:

“The Maori Party is not going anywhere. We have been planning, and building like Maori ninjas operating in stealth mode.”

The stealth quotient must indeed have been high, for at present this planning and building remains nigh on invisible… If the Maori Party want to take all seven Maori seats this election, as party president Naida Glavish declared, then the party had best cease the ninja impression and unveil its grand plan.

In terms of winning all seven seats, the Maori Party is in fantasy land, which they presumably know. Every party has to sound upbeat about their electoral prospects, but Ms Glavish is taking upbeat just a tad too far, especially given that a fair few pundits are predicting the complete demise of the Maori Party from Parliament this election.

It’s not all as bad as it seems though. Mr Flavell would have to be considered the favourite to hold Waiariki. Although his majority over Annette Sykes is rather less than he’d undoubtedly prefer, he’s now the Maori Party leader, and will benefit from the additional exposure that role provides.

And in the party vote, this site’s Poll of Polls has had the Maori Party resolutely stuck between 1.1% and 1.3% (with one outlier in mid-March, where they dropped to 1.0%), generally holding enough support to just bring in a second MP if NZ First doesn’t make it back. So… if Mr Flavell can hold his seat and either hold the party vote at its current level or raise it by a few fractions of a per cent, and NZ First doesn’t make 5%, Mr Flavell probably won’t be alone!

It may not be a glorious clean sweep of the Maori seats, a la NZ First circa 1996, but when you’re the Maori Party and you’re staring down the barrel of losing two of your three electorate seats, getting a second seat from the list surely can’t be sneezed at?