Lyndon Hood - famous, Lower Hutt

Sunday, September 25, 2005

It was pointed out to me last week that the Suday Star-Times' blogwatch had quoted my post about why the brethren thing was actually a problem for Brash. Fortunately for my power-corridor cred they did not quote any of the bits where I may have implied that any single issue could loose National the election. I believe it was actually this piece:
I do feel a little sorry for him as a person, but some of the qualities that led him to this point are the same ones that would make him a disaster as a Prime Minister.

I have before now professed a distrust of "strong leadership". That doesn't mean I want a political incompetent in charge of my country. Least of all in an MMP parliament.
That, I stand by. I happen to think that this result is just the kind of thing MMP should deliver. I think this term will be no rougher than the last. And if I imagine Brash in the position Clark is in now I can only think it really would fall apart.

Is that unfair? Since the man couldn't even keep his caucus lined up during an election campaign, it at least bears thinking on.

Anyhow, the hilarious thing about the SST blogwatch was that while the quote was correctly attributed to Fighting Talk they gave the web address as kearney.blogspot.com. That's - um - not our web address.

A ha ha ha ha.

So one moral in all this is for the benefit of people laying out newspapers: if you use the same template every week, do check that you've actually updated all of the text. I've been there: it can be so embarrassing having the contents pages of your student paper have the same date for four weeks.

Another lesson arises from this chance this affair gave me to look back on my headline ("Brash Looses Election") from some kind of emotional distance. While it seemed so clear to me on the day that all broke, I clearly still have not fathomed the mind of the National voter. Makes me feel a bit like all those bloggers, the ones who were so sure - for months - that the Nats would romp home, must be feeling right about now.

Moral two: don't mistake helpful events or wishful thoughts for hatched chickens.

So I won't rake over the results until the specials are counted. But I did want to drop some words about some of the claims that're going about. One example will hopefully serve:


Bollocks they did. Shift to the Right overall - yes. A parliamentary majority will have ample opportunities to piss off lefties in the coming term.

Making that claim requires one to ignore the way that NZ First and United Future repeat myself - are in the middle. They might go about it in a messed-up way, but they are.

The actual MPs from United Future do tend to show a degree of laissez-faire economics and moral conservatism that puts National to shame (maybe because the Nat's economic policies have to seem vaguely sensible). But Peter Dunne's whole schtick has been to position his party, politically and electorally, in the middle.

Of course, they also claimed to be the party of stable government, and look at the way Peter's behaving now.

But people voted for a party that said it was in the middle, and could support either National or Labour.

And Winston just isn't on the modern Right. You get to Winston's position by starting in the middle and heading for Rob Muldoon. He doesn't match up with anyone.

Again, people voted for a party that could (at least tacitly) go either way. We all though that was just an excuse to go with National, but that's not the way things have turned out. And despite his habit of supporting National and opposing Labour, at least half of his remaining supporters seem to favour Helen.

And Labour got more votes, and - though I suspected he had left himself a touch of wiggle room - Winston is sticking to his word.

That is something that should also be borne in mind when constructing scenarios without the Maori seats, or without the Greens. Labour would still have more votes and probably more seats. Winston would be, as he is now, honour-bound to support Labour.

Winston's promise was something that more than one blogger invovled in the management of a National campaign has seemed loath to mention, and/or happy to ignore when building counterfactual governments like those mentioned above.

Really: can we all please stop doing that? It's just silly.

So yes, I conclude that more voters favoured the Labour and effectively the Left. Even if, as Frog had it (site down when I looked), you allow the Right to have United Future. Just.

This is supported by the way that, right up to the election, Helen Clark was ahead as preferred PM. I know there's a boost in those polls from incumbency, by she was getting an outright majority of those who expressed an opinion.

Yet swap round a percentage point in the party votes and Winston would be going with National now. Then the election would have been stolen.

Lyndon and Hamish - mainstreamicists

Friday, September 16, 2005

12 Reasons Not to Vote National

The finale in Fighting Talk's authoritative voting guide series.

1. You don't want to make a testicle of yourself.

2. Because if you don't vote for Labour, you will have to answer to David "Mad Dog" Benson-Pope and Pete "Scarface" Hodgson.

3. Because they're going to abolish parole, and I guess keep the extra prisoners in cells that they (the prisoners) build themselves, out of, I don't know, balsa wood or something, because there sure as hell isn't enough money for it in National's budget.

4. Or maybe they're going to impose market rents on prison cells.

5. Because if Don Brash becomes Prime Minister, they might not replace him with John Key at all, which would be a tragedy for the National Party.

6. Because if you do, National might win the election. And then Don Brash would be trying to run the country, and Gerry Brownlee would be trying to run Parliament. Think about it. That's not governent, that's the premise of a sitcom.

7. You're Maori.

8. Because countries don't normally change their leader in the middle of a war. Admittedly, we're not at war, but we would be if Don Brash had been Prime Minister.

9. Because you've decided to go with Winston, who will unconditionally support whichever main party gets the most votes on supply and confidence. You could of course actually vote for the party you want to lead the next government instead, but you are a natural gambler.

10. When even a "National Party source" is "concerned at Don Brash's links to big business", this is of concern.

11. Because you have followed the political side of their campaign, and suffer from the old-fashion belief that potential governments should stay together at the seams.

12. Because they like it up the bum. Don't believe us? Well, explain this: National is an anagram of into anal.

Lyndon Hood - Punditommentator, Lower Hutt

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Click for big version.
Apologies if it's been done.

Stop me if you've been down this track, but it only occured to me the other day.

Consider, if there is such a thing, the typical poll. Of current parliamentary parties, we might have: on the right ACT and National, on the left Labour and the Progressives and the Greens, and in the middle (in terms of supporting a potential government) United Future, New Zealand First and, arguably, the Maori Party.

Award each side half the vote of the parties in the middle, you get a Left/Right map of the electorate, yes?

Left wins. Swing to the right since last time, but last time was very bad for the Right.

Obviously, the world is not like this. For one thing, much of the 'middle' seems to have a natural home one the Right, but that's not really my point.

How in the name of anything did this election turn into a two-horse race?

I'm not going to blame the media for trumpeting the top two party vote figures on every new pole. Though they are getting hopelessly keen on this and it does not help. I should say I've done this myself.

I'm not even going to blame National for, having been handed ACT, trying to devour the rest of the opposition. For all that they've long been accused of trying to turn this into a First Past the Post election, it's not their fault they're as close as they are to pulling it off.

I blame the Peter Dunne and Winston Peters, for predicating their support on which party gets the most seats.

And that's what their policies mean. United Future says it's 'first negotiation', but they could almost certainly make a deal with whoever they negotiated with first. Even Labour.

Winston say it's abstain on supply and confidence or vote for if necessary. He would always have to vote for, unless a main Party (most likely candidate for this is Labour) could form a majority coalition without him.

This approach is undemocratic in that Peters and Dunne have chosen an arbitrary standard that may well not reflect the will of the people as a whole. But it is at least democratic in that they have told us in advance.

This ridiculous attitude means the surest way to success for a main party is to devour its supporters. And there's been no 'party vote Labour to keep the government' campaign. Well, I've seen signs of one, but it's not very concerted.

Whichever way it all goes, someone will probably feel cheated. But don't say you weren't warned.

This making you think about shifting from Labour to the Greens?

My incompletely calculated advice is to vote for a party you like. If, for example, 'tactical' shifting leaves the Greens on 4.9 per cent, Labour could easily be worse of than if National beats them on the party vote. Do the maths yourself, if you like. I say, let the people decide, and show Winston and Peter what for.

Just don't party vote Maori.

And all those right-wingers out there: Rodney is so gonna win Epsom. Vote ACT. Put National in its place.

New Hood: Under Bee Hive (without apologies to Dylan Thomas)

Have a good time at the polls, y'all.


Silent on the treasury costings?

Of course I'm silent on the treasury costings.

We've already had this argument. I have yet to hear any compelling reason to think that loan uptake will blow out under Labour's policy given that they haven't already and loans are currently interest-free while studying. There are rules about drawing down the money. For the vast bulk of the student population, trying to game the system just isn't worth the trouble.

And once Key and Cullen start having and argument, you may as well say goodbye to any public interest in the details.

The excuses, some of them quite good, that Cullen is providing now for the costings and for the not releasing of them, are exactly what he said when the subject first came up. It would have been simpler to release them when they were asked for anyway, but there you are.

So yeah, until we see the costing for a single, solitary National policy, or vaguely credible estimates, or even any policy (excluding tax) that exists with sufficient detail, mutually agreed by all spokespeople, that it actually could be costed in the first place, I'm not saying anything about the treasury costings.

Hamish and Lyndon - not former Police Commissioners

Twelve Reasons Not to Vote Labour

The penultimate post in a multi-part series.

1. Labour sounds too much like hard work.

2. Because you're gonna drive with such scrupulous obedience to the road rules that you won't make it to the ballot box on time.

3. You prefer National's policies, on account of how you get off on the idea of holding reviews.

4. Because Helen Clark personally lifted all those emails out of Don's in-tray, made one copy of each, returned them -- all in the blink of an eye -- then leaked them. This may seem unlikely, but think about it: that woman can move pretty fast.

5. Because you think that, rather than physically restraining Madeleine Flannagan, Pete Hodgson should have punched her in the face. That doesn't really makes sense, but we feel a lot better for saying it.

6. You have decided to go with the party whose campaign uses the most recognisable photo of Helen Clark.

7. Because you think Don Brash will be a really good Prime Minister. No, seriously -- some people think that.

8. Because the Prime Minister's speed, attitude towards airline pilots, and teeth are issues that are important to you.

9. Because God wants the shackles of employment relations law removed from His businesses.

10. Their continued association with Jim Anderton.

11. Because you're convinced Trevor Mallard is somehow in the wrong party.

12. Because their leader isn't physically attractive. Vote Destiny.

Kelly Pendergrast - beaming in, San Diego

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two days ago...

I'm on the plane. I'm gone, out of New Zealand without even a post about the stresses of reducing one's life in order to fit it into a couple of travel bags (mind you, when entering the USA you are allowed up to 64 kilos of baggage. 64 KILOS! Is that ridiculous? I think so). My eyeballs are so dry right now. My teeth are as dirty as you'd imagine. I'm trying to retain my sense of private space whilst on this flying people-mover. Headphones on, hood up, laptop out, a pool of digital light in the dark of the cabin. It's 10:30pm in New Zealand, 3:50am in LA. I am a time traveler.

Of course, I intended to make friends on the plane, to enjoy the journey (apparently it isthe destination) and forgo in-flight alcohol. I could feel my plans become thwarted even before boarding, when the departure lounge filled with ancient Floridians on a package tour (I looked at their name badges) and the flight was delayed due to a burst pipe in one of the toilets. Nevermind. Air travel may be a luxury, but it's still an ordeal. I should do some leg exercises. I don't want to be getting deep vein thrombosis.

So, how about that election then ay?


And now that I'm in a warmer climate, I'm still finding it ridiculously hard to care about the election. Anyway, I've already voted.

In other news - Americans are funny.

Lyndon Hood - Schandenfreudehaber, Lower Hutt

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Brash Loses Election

I won' t pretend I'm not pleased about this. Or gobsmacked.

But it's not a total surprise in that this kind of screwup is typical of the slipshod way National's campaign has been conducted to date.

I mean, Hodgson screwed up, and the costings of the loan write-off could embarrass Labour, but Brash is screwed.

As if having friends like the Brethren wasn't bad enough.

One of the main things he had over Clark was his personal credibility - odd in a man who changed all his opinions on assuming control of the National Party, but there it is.

And now it's gone.

Why? Let's work it though.

When he spoke to Paul Holmes, he said he didn't know who was putting out the nasty pamphlets. Strictly speaking, this could well be true. It's not as if the fact that he knew the Brethren were planning some pamphlet campaign or other was sufficient proof to go public with.

In retrospect, this is merely unfortunate.

Then, after the origin of the campaign was revealed, he walked out on the press rather than talk about it.

He could have come clean and explained his position then, and quite possibly not lost anything by it. Not doing so was something of a moral failing we might charitably suggest was brought on by too much political coaching. But not enough to do the political thing and just lie.

Instead, he looks evasive.

And Gerry Brownlee continued to tell anyone who will listen that National knew nothing.

Then, in a fantastic interview by bFM's Noelle McCarthy (audio), Brash just admits it. He knew in advance that the Brethren were planning a pamphlet campaign.

After that, again talking to the press, he was unable or unwilling to explain why he didn't come clean earlier.

Now he has a explanation, if only in relation to the Holmes quote, and it's a bit late for it to wash.

I do feel a little sorry for him as a person, but some of the qualities that led him to this point are the same ones that would make him a disaster as a Prime Minister.

I have before now professed a distrust of "strong leadership". That doesn't mean I want a political incompetent in charge of my country. Least of all in an MMP parliament.

The debate should be good viewing.

And the pamphlet campaign, it seems, will still go ahead.

Anybody thinking of punting for Labour on Centerbet should probably take whatever odds they're offering now.

As I say, credit to Noelle M for the interview (and Russell B for noting the critical fact).

Of course, you might prefer to hear a interview where the politician is given all the slack he could ask for; my interview with Rod Donald should be up on Scoop sometime soon.

Or to you might want to read a short news article based on exactly one fact.

Or a New, Brief Hood: Suggested Excuses for the use of Dr Donald Brash in this Evening's Televised Leaders Debate.

Lyndon Hood - Inner crybaby, Lower Hutt

Monday, September 05, 2005


It took this to make me realise how viscerally I don't want National to win this election.

I didn't spend this last term hating National's tone and the bulk of their actual constructive suggestions to have them become the Government now.

Especially since they have, by my count, maybe five policies.

1) Tax cuts.

2) Let's pretend everyone is white.

And, where a is a variable indicating some particular policy area:

3) We have announced a clear plan regarding a (although at least to other plans that may or may not be similar have been announced around the same time), and our budget allows us to spend not more than half of what you might reasonably expect it will cost.

And then we'll throw in some extra as well, like more police with extra law and order spending that was earmarked for the abolition of parole and wasn't enough even then.


4) We assert that the current government has done badly as regards a. We will hold an enquiry after the election.

I suppose it's quite reasonable to sound middle-of-the-road of you don't actually say what you are going to do.

Which isn't to say Labour hasn't been releasing a whole lot of late policy this last week or so. But it's generally been, 'we will do much the same, only a bit more so'. National has gotten deeply into the habit of disavowing anything its ministers might have said before last month, so theirs tend to be shorter on detail and bigger on surprises.

Combine this with the general chaos surrounding policy announcements, and I have to do some serious mental squinting to work out how such a noticeable number of people seem to think Brash is doing a good job.

Of course, it's possible they're just bored of Labour.

Anyhow, if people are going for that shit, it's difficult to know how to respond. Which brings me to ...

National's Service Cuts

Or, since National're obviously in no hurry to say what they are - though they sometimes respond to direct questions about, say, DOC - perhaps 'National's Shadowy Service Cuts'. Something sinister like that.

How about we all call them that from now on? Keep away from the T**-word. The right-wing bloggers can stay on-message, so why can't we? Be like them! Don't let a conscience and a sense of perspective get in the way of victory!

Cullen came out swinging on this one today, summarising a lot of people's vague and/or concrete suspicions. I imagine that people have given up on the generals of the tax debate and vote for their wallet, but you never know. Every little bit helps.

And when I say 'vote for their wallet', that is of course excluding and extra costs of services or lack of pay rises that might ensue.

Cullen's stuff here and here (powerpoint). Evaluate it if you dare. I'm keen to see Key's response, if only to find out if he just says "oh not it isn't" like he did with transport.

We're talking several of billions. Wasteful spending wasteful schmending.

Other Campaign News

  • Don Brash told the Dom Post that National will only be keeping Working for Families until they think of something else to do. Which, among other things, means that their tax calculator is based on some very short-term assumptions. Or, to look it another way, is lying.

  • I suspect that Labour use of Clark's parliamentary leader fun for their pledge card is allowed. Not that I've minutely inspected the rules or the card. It's certainly not the obvious monument to brazen rule-origami that was the Working for Families campaign. I do find it amusing that Stephen Franks is laying a complaint, considering what his leader put out earlier in the campaign.

  • The other day at the fruit and vege market I saw a big dog walking along with a "Party Vote Labour" coat on. Then, around when it vanished into the crowd, along came a hairy little dog with a "Party Vote Labour" coat on. That was kind of cute.

    And this morning I got handed one of those controversial pledge cards by Trevor Mallard himself. Consider me reached, I guess.

  • Kelly Pendergrast - so hot right now, Wellington


    Kanye West, everybody's favourite animal-suit-wearing, Common-producing, Time-magazine-cover-boy stirred up a storm at the recent televised Red Cross appeal for Hurricane Katrina victims. While Mike Myers and other do-gooder celebrities dutifully recited their lines, Kanye ignored the teleprompter and fired off an angry, Bush-baiting rant (which you can watch here).

    With this outburst, Kanye joins the lofty ranks of Famous People Using Big Televised Events to Air their Political Views. Others include Michael Moore during his Oscar acceptance speech, Jarvis Cocker waggling his arse at Michael Jackson during the Brit Awards that one time, and Janet Jackson showing everyone her nipple during the Superbowl. Ok, maybe the nipple doesn't count.

    Predictably, Kanye's outburst has already been decried as stupid and selfish (or at least inappropriate), but I, for one, think that it was pretty awesome. Live television is usually so banal and formally predictable that moments like this, which manage to break so many unspoken rules of conduct while also making a political point, deserve a fist pump in the air and a celebratory "Whooh!".

    Lyndon Hood - Stirrer, Lower Hutt

    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Seeing as the issue is neither old, in that some of the emails quoted come from this year, or irrelevant, not least because it suggests that the political and fundraising sections of National aren't as seperate as you may have heard, here's yet another leaked email:

    New Hood: Roger Kerr Seeks A Refund On A Faulty Tool