Lyndon Hood - Punditommentator, Lower Hutt

Thursday, September 15, 2005

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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.