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.