It's not often that you get to read a coherant statement from a looser in a political battle. I thought this article from Mark Alexander (part of the United Future list which was not returned) was a good one.
In particular, I thought it was interesting to suggest "the more we accentuated our sectarian identity, the more our Christian support abandoned us to support National."
I think National's massive success in the last election was to gather support from all the flavours of the right. Mark's statement would tend to support that.
Curiously, both the Guardian and the BBC mention National's maori and anti-nuke policies in their coverage. But very few mentions of the offered tax cuts.
For the most part, I thought that was a damn fine example of people voting for a government. I'm very disappointed that the high enrolment rate didn't result in a commensurate turn out.
I wonder if the McGillicuddies would have provided an effective protest vote outcome if they had been standing. I miss them. Something must be done!
I'd also like to say I don't think I've ever seen any defeated leader look quite so dead in the eyes as Don Brash looked tonight. I imagine he'll recover tonight and push back with more spark tomorrow, but there was nothing there tonight. I'm kinda sad. His "I'm not conceeding yet" speach indicated to me that he was most hurt by his perceived loss of the integrity competition. I doubt many things about Don, but I'm clear that he wants to see himself as an honourable man. Many shades of Bill Rowling and Geoffrey Palmer there somewhere....
This election is the first in my memory where the politicians aren't busy explaining that we need to 'grow the pie' so we can have the lifestyle we want.
This bothers me.
As far as I can tell (based on very little actual information), we're not actually doing that well. The economy may be running hot, but it mostly seems to be based on borrowing money from overseas. Eventually, we're going to have to pay that off. If we find ourselves doing that with high oil prices and low comodity prices, we'll get to experience the 80's all over again.
I'd much rather we used the cash to make crutial investments now. I don't care too much whether they are in the private sector (in terms of improving plant, engaging in research or taking this opportunity to launch an overseas arm) or in the public sector (in terms of gaining an improvement in education, taking the opportunity to learn how to cope with bi or multiculturalism or investing in alternative energy).
But I do care that it happens. This golden weather is an opportunity to do really well in the next decades. I don't want to waste in on raising house prices again and buying lots of overseas consumables just because we can.
Points to National Radio's 9 till noon for raising this topic, even if the segment established more about what economists don't know than what they do.
Yup, that high-pitched squeal may just be a new dog whistle in this election. Or Don Brash getting adjitated.
I mentioned recently that Brash has done a bang-up job of blending the economic liberalism and social conservatism required for a successful National party leader. The association with the Closed Bretheren seems to be creating a problem in that balance, in that adds a quiet but unnerving harmonic of crazy religiousness to Brash's perfectly ordinary moral values*.
To make matters worse, he's wasting time he should be spending scoring points with policy swatting ineffectually at the media. It is one thing to be a little naive in politics, but he's going to be representing us overseas. His repeated errors of judgement make him look suspiciously like he'll mortally offend other leaders by failing to do his homework. We like honest, down to earth leaders, but we like them to live in the real world and have a fair grasp of what might offend people.
* I don't think this is actually justified, as Brash's history indicates he's more of a formal social liberal. But he hasn't established that enough in people's minds to get this one to slide off his back.
Is it just me, or are political polls getting less, and less useful?
There is some discussion in the quieter backwaters of political science and journalism that the polls are getting less accurate. The idea is that fewer people are prepared to spend 20 minutes answering a bunch of questions. Effectively, they are self-selecting, and skewing the results.
If this is the case, it would suggest that the margin of error for most polls is higher than the one they report.
In the meantime, it would be nice if journalists read this article about the flaws in surveys, so they could report with a little less breathlessness.
Public Service Announcement:
The Aro Valley Meet the Candidates evening will be held at the Aro Community Centre, 48 Aro Street, 7PM.
Usually a damn fine night with lots of intelligent questions and good natured heckling. Last time I went there was listening-outside-through-the-windows room only by the time it started, so it may be worth getting there early.
I'll be going (largely because the competition in Rongotai is usually outstandingly irrelevant).
I think Brash is doing well because he is gathering both neo liberal and conservative votes.
His credentials as a Governor of the Reserve Bank and ACT crony are quite enough to keep any free market radical thinking he's the real deal. His gentlemanly approach to woman and his racial purism are enough to convince conservatives that he will turn around the social liberalism of the last, well, 30 years I guess.
I say this because National's increase in popularity has been at the expense of the small parties of the right and middle. Labour has held its ground well (and most of the loss is accounted for by Maori Party votes).
Its the biggest challenge to the leader of a major party, how to bring home all the votes from your side of the fence. It doesn't matter how much of the middle you get if your core vote is off dallying with fringe parties. This problem beset Labour from 1990 to 1996 and National from 1999 to 2002.
I find it curious that his odd combination of conservatism and liberalism is working, where English's blend (which is very similar) failed so spectacularly. In that he is very similar to Bush I think.
I also wonder whether Brash is the last of an old breed and National is just delaying the process of inventing the next generation of right-wing consensus builders.