9.45pm: Phil Goff crops up on both the 7pm shows. On TV3’s Campbell Live he’s talking welfare, following an item in which the programme returns to visit Margaret from Mangere, a beneficiary with six children, who featured on 3 News last night and tonight – and on Campbell Live three years ago, it transpires. On One’s Close Up, he speaks to Mike Hosking about the exodus of New Zealanders to Australia.
On both programmes he makes his arguments well enough, and he is able to lay out his policy solutions unopposed, with National seemingly not willing to take part. But everything feels a bit over-modulated, a bit monotone even. It’s not that he doesn’t care – obviously he does. It’s more that he somehow seems like he’s lodging a complex but reasonable complaint about a missing package at the Post Office.
Campbell Live then goes to Epsom, where it talks to the people, the people of Epsom. They like National, most of them.
Of the 100 People of Epsom the show asked, 58 said they’d voted for the National candidate Paul Goldsmith, 26 for John Banks of ACT. It appears they simply counted the People of Epsom they met on the street, so it’s not all that much more reliable than the Herald poll conducted yesterday and eviscerated by David Farrar (see 3.45pm), but still it’s not much fun for John Banks.
Banks says their private polling shows National and ACT neck and neck, which is a line he’s held for weeks in the face of a thousand contradictions.
The ACT brand has arguably been corrupted, destroyed by the antics of Rodney Hide, says John Campbell. What is the ACT brand now? “Brand Key,” says Banks. “It’s brand Key … John Key is the most successful prime minister in history.”
He refuses to dispute Campbell’s suggestion that Don Brash looks like “a flake”. He’s abandoned any pretence of promoting an ACT agenda at all now: it’s National, National, National, Key, Key, Key, that and the wise, tactical, blue-blooded people of Epsom. All he now seems to stand for is a tactical quirk of MMP, a crutch that can support John Key.
I watched the iPredict Election 2011 show on Stratos, too. It was pretty good: Martyn Bradbury is an able host, and draws some interesting answers from Sue Bradford of Mana and, especially, Colin Craig, leader of the newly formed Conservative party. The “prediction” format of the show is a little annoying – and it feels a bit weird to have Bradbury, an enemy of free markets, embracing the longs and shorts of election betting – but there is some properly engaging discussion on core values, even, whisper it, a bit of political philosophy.
There isn’t much in the way of direct exchange between the two guests, however. It is more like two separate interviews, inter-cut. Tomorrow night, however, the guests are Matthew Hooton and Hone Harawira. I have a sneaking suspicion they might just engage one other.
7.10pm: EVENING BULLETINS
Both 6pm bulletins lead on Michael Jackson’s doctor being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.
On 3 News, next up is politics, with Goff’s 10-part attack on Key. Patrick Gower highlights the use of the word smug, “one of the favourite slurs the left use against Key”.
Despite Goff’s obfuscation, he is clearly having a go at the prime minister’s character, says Gower. “It’s aimed at deconstructing Key’s brand to show that saying you’ll build a brighter future doesn’t always mean it will come.”
Next Duncan Garner introduces a special study of the underclass, noting that compared to 2008, when Key came to power, there are 60,000 more beneficiaries, and 32,000 more children in benefit-dependent families, while the gap between rich and poor appears to have widened, in part thanks to National’s tax cuts.
Labour has set the agenda by focusing on the poor this week, says Garner, but National has seen off the attacks ably by characterising Labour’s promises as irresponsible.
Second on One News is the death of Joe Frazier. Third is Christchurch’s new stadium. Fourth, race day at Addington. Fifth, an item that is not expressly about the election, but hardly helps the cause of the beleaguered ACT: there is their former law and order spokesman, already disgraced, leaving court (and apparently headbutting a television camera) where he is facing drink-driving charges. Sixth is the suspicious death of a one-year-old. Seventh, a coroner’s report into a child’s death. Eighth, caddie Steve Williams.
Then, at last, 20 minutes into the bulletin, the 2011 election appears, the ninth cab off the rank. It’s “Goff on the attack”. Then we return to the Labour children’s package, announced yesterday.
Earlier on Checkpoint, leading the Radio New Zealand 5pm news was a review of security being ordered by the Ministry of Social Development following an incident yesterday. Then they went to Goff’s top-10 Key failures list, and the response it sparked. Next off to Christchurch and news from the Royal Commission.
Details of the 7pm shows soon – Campbell Live looks election-heavy. Will also try to watch the Bradbury show, which really should be called iPredict, A Riot. No?
5.20pm: “I’d welcome a cup of tea with John Key, as any New Zealander would,” says John Banks, ACT candidate for Epsom, talking to Checkpoint on RNZ. “Of course I’d like an endorsement from John Key, but I’m not asking for it.” Not asking for it? I’m going to try that at the fish and chip shop. I’d like two fish and a scoop of chips. “Certainly.” But I’m not asking for it. “What? Get out of my shop.”
Banks’ appeal to Epsom for a stable coalition partner for National is not limited to this time around. In a tacit nod to the mortal threat that faces the party should they fail to gain a single seat on November 26, he says National need support “in 2014, 2017 and 2020″.
5.10pm: Further to the update at 3.05pm, Labour has accused John Key of being “in denial on major issues facing Kiwis“. To summarise, then: One guy says the other guy is in denial, which he denies, saying the other guy is in denial, which he denies. OK?
4.45pm: Quiz. Who said “they want to give Andrew Little a bloody nose, because that’s the sport of politics”? Answer: The Labour candidate for New Plymouth, picked by some as a future leader, is referring to himself in the third person. Worrying.
Jane Clifton on Labour’s policy for children – and their debt to Scandinavian policy-making.
Cameron Slater of Whaleoil thinks Goff has done the right thing with his 10-point list (see 11.45am), believe it or not. Except it’s too little, and too late. Slater writes:
So Phil what is your excuse for not talking about this incessently for the past three years? Hell’s teeth even I said Labour should have been running this sort of campaign back in December last year. Labour are so out of ideas for the campaign they now have to resort to stealing them off right wing bloggers.
Two interesting posts on polling at Kiwiblog today: one upbraids the Herald for drawing conclusions from a street poll of 47 people; the other upbraids all those that reported the questionable poll that showed Conservative party leader Colin Craig ahead in Rodney.
At Public Address, Craig Ranapia writes on celebrity endorsements and Robyn Malcolm.
At the Standard, Eddie is delighted with Labour’s children’s policy.
Morgan Godfery’s analysis of the Maori seats at Maui Street continues with a look at the candidates and issues in Waiariki.
And a couple of satirical posts. At Opposable Thumb, Denis Welch lays bare the complexity of “Operation Hot Mic”, John Key’s daring raid of the Morning Report studio this morning. Danyl Mclauchlan lays on the pathos in an interview with Phil Goff at the Dim-Post.
3.10pm: Jim Anderton as been referred to the police over an alleged breach of the Electoral Act.
3.05pm: Leading the National programme’s 3pm news is John Key’s riposte to the Phil Goff list of his failures (see 11.45am). Goff is in denial about the global financial crisis and about the impact of the Christchurch earthquake. Just as he was in denial over the cost of Labour promises.
2.15pm: At No Right Turn, Idiot/Savant pours scorn on all the teal coalition talk: a coalition with National is, as they say, “highly unlikely”.
Overall, I think the problem here isn’t that the Greens have been unclear or “slippery” about their coalition conditions: they haven’t been (and unlike most parties, they’ve sought a mandate and published it on the web for all to see). The problem is the tribalism of people like Edwards [see 11.25am], who have a Manichean worldview in which “you are either with us, or against us”, and anything less than total, unqualified support puts you on the other side. But parties of policy like the Greens don’t operate like that. Their goal is to advance their policies rather than support a side. And that means that the prospect of cooperation must always be open, however unlikely.
Via NRT, here is the Green press release from June that explicity lays out the party’s position – calling itself “an independent party that could support a Labour-led Government in the right circumstances but support for National [is] highly unlikely”.
1.45pm: “Where do the Nats get their campaign ideas from?” tweets Metro columnist David Slack, with photographic evidence that he may be Steven Joyce’s muse.
1.30pm: The Green co-leaders are on Radio Live, talking to Jon Tamihere and Willie Jackson. It’s becoming clear there’s a difference, if only one of emphasis, between Russel Norman and Metiria Turei on the question of a teal deal (see 11.25am).
Norman is happy to accept the proposition put to him that the Greens are no longer a party of the left, but one of the centre. “Yeah,” he says. “I think that sustainability has spread [across the political spectrum]. I have heaps to do with business.”
He’s ready to entertain going into government with anyone, he says, as long as they address their three marquee policy demands: addressing child poverty, cleaning rivers and creating green jobs.
Turei would not disagree with that, but she seems much less comfortable with the centrist label. Indeed, minutes later she says: “We’re the only safe left vote.”
1.00pm: More blurring of the lines between government and National party campaign announcements. Reading the National campaign Twitter feed, you could be mistaken for thinking the government announcement of a new 17,000-seater temporary stadium for Christchurch (details are here) is a campaign pledge.
11.25am: What chance then a teal deal? Gordon Campbell is typically thorough in exploring the possible permutations and implications of an arragement between National and Green in his post at Scoop this morning. “Once the Greens ever seriously started playing footsy with National, it would have to be for keeps,” Campbell reckons, “no matter how conditional the Greens might like to think they could make that relationship.”
Meanwhile in his Herald column this morning, academic and political commentator Bryce Edwards attacks the Greens for their duplicity in claiming they represent the best way to rid the country of a National government while at the same time leaving the door open to a coalition. “No left-wing voter or opponent of the current government can justifiably vote for the Greens while the party refuses to say whether or not it would support a National government,” he writes.
Blogger Danyl Mclauchlan and a handful of others have been debating this on Twitter - and it all ends in a tasty exchange between Edwards and the official Green party account. Here are some highlights in a Storify selection (sometimes takes a while to load):
10.50am: ABC Radio Australia ran an item yesterday on the role of the Greens in the election and New Zealand politics. A transcript, headlined Oil spill boosts NZ Greens’ prospects is on their site.
In the piece, the ABC’s excellent NZ correspondent, Dominique Schwartz, harks back to John Key’s “100% pure” interview with the BBC, and notes the possibility of a Green deal with National. It’s true that Key has done his best in recent days to suggest that a vote for the Greens is a vote for a leftwing Labour-Green coalition, but there is little doubt that the Greens are leaving the door open to National.
Expect this question to get a bit of traction as the camaign develops.
Thank you Brian Edwards. I am mostly disturbed by the original Herald reporters assumption that measured language, direct criticism and the odd joke is somehow “savage angry vitriol”. And Coddingtons utterly sexist obsession with my personal grooming. For G’s sake! Thanks for comments guys.. for and against. Intelligent conversation is all good. Keeps election time lively.
She’s been on Twitter, too, responding to a story in this morning’s Herald, in which the Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer says she should be dropped from fronting an Auckland Council campaign to encourage recycling because she is “too partisan” to front the plan, and will “further paint the council into a left-wing political corner”. Malcolm tweets:
Too partisan Cameron? Tis the season to be partisan. Last time I looked we lived in a democracy. Don’t tell me Kate Sheppard wasted her time.
9.40am: Advance voting opens tomorrow. Mobile advance voting facilities will be set up in Christchurch, the HMNZS Canterbury is couriering voting papers to DOC workers on Raoul Island, and the world’s southernmost polling place (presumably) will be set up at Scott Base, Antarctica. More at the Electoral Commission website.
9.25am: The New Zealand Herald has managed to squeeze another story out of the Robyn Malcolm business, with Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer – never shy of publicity – calling for her to be kicked out of her Auckland council role. Elsewhere, the morning papers major on the Labour policy for children. Read more in the paper review here.
8.35am: Closing the interview with Key, Mercep says to him: “A final question: will you come back on this programme and debate Phil Goff before the end of the campaign?” It’s a very popular programme, Mercep adds, hopefully. Key laughs him off. “You shouldn’t take it personal.”
The compressed campaign, Key says, means that there is only time for so many debates - which is fair enough, though Mercep and his producers are probably thinking: yeah, but how come TV One gets two of them? Key then says something interesting about formats, implicitly criticising the first TV One debate, saying that unless you have a longer format – “as you did in the Press debate the other day” – you end up with soundbites and people talking over each other.
And with that, Key slides out of the studio, nary a glove laid upon him.
8.30am: Patrick O’Meara is the third interviewer in action. He asks Key about the survey that showed businesses concerned at the government’s lack of an economic plan. Key says he’s clear what they want to do: get into surplus as soon as possible. That sounds more like a goal than a plan to me. He goes on, however, to point to a tuning of infrastructure and minimising regulation as the path to growth.
Key simply sounds more fluent talking economic and fiscal policy than his counterpart. Accountancy is his mother tongue and it shows.
That said, the use of the word “schizophrenic” to describe Labour’s economic policy shows his propensity to be lazy, offensive even, in use of language.
Mercep pushes Key on whether there might further asset sales. He says that philosophically he supports the mixed ownership model. He goes on to imply that KiwiBank might be in part sold (though he has already made clear that National would not sell any more than the four assets already announced in the next term).
8.15am: Introducing the Morning Report interview with John Key, Simon Mercep says they had hoped to have debates between the main leaders on the show but the National campaign had declined. He doesn’t put the question directly to the PM, however, nor does he ask him – or he hasn’t yet – why he so rarely appears on Morning Report.
Instead Mercep, supported by political editor Brent Edwards, kick off with the Cup of Tea. Will he deliver a message to Epsom to support John Banks? “We might do,” says Key, and there’s no change in the line here. For the time being it remains “up to the people of Epsom”.
7.55am: In his weekly soft-bottom interview on Breakfast, Goff says there is a lot of support for his policy on parental leave and the rest of the package but he understands that “it has to be paid for and that’s why we’re phasing it in over six years”. Mao ran things similarly, says Dann (he doesn’t say that, actually).
Dann pushes Goff on the costs, and the borrowing required. “Isn’t this about priorities?” says Goff. “The government found enough money to give $1,000 a week in tax cuts to the most wealthy people in ths country. The top 10% of income earners are getting about two and a half billion dollars in tax cuts, and we say we can’t afford to take our children out of poverty?”
Why not redirect the six billion you’d put into the super fund into your policy for children, Dann asks. Goff says that would just put the burden on the children of baby boomers. “Our kids will vote with our feet; you’ll be visiting your grandchildren in Australia.”
Petra says to Corin: “Are you keeping up to play with all the policies released?”
Corin: “I’m trying to.”
Petra: “I saw some baby kissing yesterday.”
7.35am: The Labour leader has been sharing a sofa with that nice Corin Dann on Breakfast. We’ll look at that in a bit, first the news.
On RNZ’s Morning Report at 7am, the lineup is familiar to anyone following things yesterday afternoon. Leading the news is ACT’s precarious position awaiting John Key’s decsion on whether to openly endorse John Banks in Epsom. Next is a roundup of the supporters of Labour’s policy for children – and those who question the extra spending it entails. Third is a story that has emerged from the Pike River Royal Commission: a Japanese miner reportedly quit the mine owing to safety concerns before the diaster struck last year.
Following the news, Morning Report covers ACT-National (see 7.15am), then Labour’s children’s policy and National’s plan to allow for post-sentence detention. That last item is introduced with: The Beast of Bleinheim may not walk free after all if National’s policy goes through – or something like that – which is precisely, of course, how they’re hoping it will play.
TV3′s Firstline is broadcasting from Christchurch ahead of Cup Day. The first, extended story looks at how the city is preparing for the big event. Next is Labour’s policy for children (see yesterday), then off to Italy and Berlusconi.
On TV One, Breakfast leads at 7am with a coroner’s report into the death of a six-year-old’s death who had been playing with a scrum machine. Then Italian and European turmoil, followed by radiation fears in Japan post-Fukushima. Then a quick crime story, and on to sport. No election there, but after the news there is some analysis of the Labour children’s policy – and they do have Phil Goff in the studio. I’m about to watch that.
Then John Key is being interviewed on Morning Report. I’ll say that again: John Key on Morning Report.
7.15am: Good morning.
Things appear to be getting even worse for ACT, with their leader beginning the morning by accepting the proposition that the party’s polling amounts to an “indicitment on [his] leadership”.
The first item proper on Morning Report after the news (details of which any minute now) explores the “signs of strain” in the previously “cosy” relationship between National and ACT. On top of the ACT New Plymouth chairman confronting Key (see yesterday; there’s an audio clip there, too), now Morning Report have the man who would have been ACT’s candidate in New Plymouth appearing on the show, criticising National’s uncomradely behaviour.
“He just can’t keep smiling and fobbing the people off,” says the ACT almost-candidate of John Key.
Not the kind of thing National want to hear leading the hour, I’d have thought; they might need to expedite the decision over that tea.
The wheels are falling off, Simon Mercep says to Don Brash in the studio in Auckland. “You’re facing oblivion.” Brash says he remains confident about Banks’ prospects in Epsom. He has faith in the people of Epsom.
You came into the role predicting ACT could reach 10% support; you’re now below 1% in polls. That’s an indictment on your leadership, isn’t it? “OK,” says Brash. “I’m happy to accept that.”
Honestly, he did.