United Future

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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(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.

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 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.

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.

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…