Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Hang out the stars in Alabama!

Well done, Albanians, or whatever you are.

Who ever thought The Great Fightback would start in Alabama?

Seriously, well done.

Nothing on the Orange One's twitter feed for five hours ... Looks like he's been given a sedative and well wrapped up in his favourite blankie.

Hopefully, they've taken his mobile away and buried it somewhere (alongside Roy Moore's political ambitions?!) because once he wakes up, he'll break Twitter with his bellyaching.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Theresa May: Going, Going ...

So, Theresa May is in a bit of trouble.  Tories are scheming and plotting - which they do on any day that ends in a 'Y' - and rumours are swirling that she is going to be 'persuaded' to 'do the right thing' for Boris Johnson's career the good of the country.  Now, I don't know about you, but I find it difficult to reconcile the terms 'Tory government' and 'the good of the country,' but I don't think what the mean is that all 316 MPs should take the Chiltern Hundreds.  It looks like there is a leadership spill coming over the ridge.  I'd better get me some popcorn.

For the plotters on all sides, there's a very complex calculation involved.

On the one hand, Boris is likely to bide his time and wait until Brexit is done. Too much like hard work for Boris. Also, he's sad things he might not be able to deliver on and he'd probably rather not have to do that. But those who don't want Boris sense a bit of an opportunity. Boris's stock is low at the moment - a lot of gaffes and disloyalty. He's part of the problem, not the solution. So if May goes quickly, yup, someone will have to Do Brexit, but it may be the only way to fend off Boris.

(Of course, that's pretty much what Theresa May thought and look where it has got her. Broken on the rocks and with the Great White Shark circling her.)

The crucial question for May is not whether Boris Johnson and Grant Shapps think she should quit.  Of course they do.  Goes without saying.  But if the sickness is spreading throughout the wider party and the donors, she's in real trouble.  From yesterday's guardian, a comment from Tory donor Charlie Mullins:
Charlie Mullins, the founder of London-based Pimlico Plumbers, said May must leave because she was being bullied and undermined by Johnson.

He said: “She has got to go for her own sake. It is getting embarrassing. If this was a boxing match, the fight would have been stopped. She has been put in a position where she is being bullied, she is being intimidated, they are making her life hell. These are Conservative people who are destroying this woman and it needs to stop.”
(Am I the only one struck by the profound oddness of the soultion - the victim has to go, rather than the bullies?)

So that must be worrying for her.  These people aren't likely to throw money at a party they regard as doomed.

Even if May survives in the short term - and I think she will, more due to the lack of spine in the Conservative party as a whole, rather than her own reserves of courage or obstinacy - she's in a pretty grim position.  The Tory papers are against her, and every misstep will be blown up as a fresh crisis which raises new questions about her leadership.  Believe me, on this topic if nothing else, we lefties know of what we speak. You think May is having a rough time of it? Look at Corbyn's leadership up until June 2017 ...

It's likely May's premiership will be remembered as a slightly surreal interlude between Cameron's blustering incompetence and ... well, whatever comes next.  It is unlikely she can expect historical rehabilitation as Gordon Brown can anticipate.  So all that's left is the halcyon days early on.  Cast your mind back to her first PMQs, and recall her imitation of Margaret Thatcher - "Remind him of anybody?"

Yes, Theresa, you DO remind us of Margaret Thatcher now.  The broken, post Poll Tax, post-Howe version, waiting for the unsmiling, bland little men in the background to tell her it was all up. Six months ago you were unassailable and riding towards a triumph; now you're just waiting to be put out of your misery.

"It's a funny old world," Thatcher said, after announcing her resignation to her Cabinet. I bet you agree.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

May's bracelet

It has been observed that Theresa May unaccountably took to the stage for her big speech to the Conservative conference wearing a bracelet featuring art work by Frida Kahlo, communist artist and (because women must always be defined by who they sleep with) occasional girlfriend of Leon Trotsky.

After being handed a P45 mid-speech by an audience member, a chronic coughing fit and then having the sign behind her fall to bits, it might seen a minor faux pas.

The Telegraph, heroically, tries to justify it:
After divorcing her husband Diego Rivera, Kahlo painted Self Portrait with Cropped Hair in 1940. The picture, showing her wearing a black suit and with a very short haircut, was widely interpreted to mean that Kahlo was sending a strong message to men: I am independent and I don't need you.

Might Mrs May have been willing the 'naughty boys' in her party to understand the very same?
I prefer a simpler explanation.

I imagine she wore it because she had little idea who the artist was and just thought it looked stylish and interesting. If she had a clue, I doubt she'd have been so silly as to wear it for the biggest speech of her life.

Just another fail in a day - a whole conference - of fails.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Hopey-changey stuff

First of all, people are talking about a 'vote for change' based on the combination of Labour, Greens and New Zealand First.

‘Change’ was not a candidate on the voting paper I saw.

People voted for parties. Those parties need to sort out a coalition / governing arrangement.

Realistically, National are in the stronger position. Winston dislikes the Greens and Labour would have to divide the baubles of office between themselves, NZ 1st and the Greens.

People trying to convince themselves that Lab-Green-NZ 1st is just around the corner are setting themselves up for disappointment. Another one. Gluttons for punishment.

Second, let's be honest about Labour's success.  The Labour-Green bloc is sitting at 41.5%.  This represents a very modest improvement on its performance on 2011 and 2008 (putting aside the disaster of 2014).  Jacindamania didn't really happen, unless something very odd is lurking in the special votes.

Where did Labour's support come from?  Mostly from the Greens and New Zealand 1st, and probably an increase in turnout amongst Labour voters, certainly compared to 2014 ... but it was hardly the tsunami that was needed.

Ardern has, however, done very well.  She deserves the chance to give it a proper go.  The muddled message on tax was damaging.  Her performance in the debates was not as good as her fans think - she resorted to shouting "Who agrees with you?" at Bill English when the tax issue came up, when English was clearly talking about the zero growth in key areas, not Joyce's mythical hole.  It played well with Labour supporters - sock it to him, Jacinda! - but to everyone else it made it look like she was trying to drown the debate on an issue she didn't want to talk about, which, in fairness, she probably was.

There has to be a bit of honest self-examination on the left.

Labour has to look at it why - after nine years of pretty rubbish National government - they are still struggling.  This is not a fundamentally leftwing country that occasionally loses its marbles and votes for National.  It's a right wing country with a bit of a social conscience.  I'm worried that the radicals will start the usual chant that Labour was not bold enough, and would have won if it had been more left wing.  Those are the sort of people who think 2014's disaster was down to 'the media.'  Like I said before, gluttons for punishment.

The Greens have to face up to a very long process of rebuilding.  The demise of the Maori Party and Mana might open up an interesting opportunity for them, particularly if Marama Davidson is confirmed as co-leader.  Will they remain on the left, as the radical wing of the Labour Party or (bearing in mind how Labour has treated them in the past, particularly in 2005) adopt a more centrist position?  The idea is poisonous to a lot of Green voters - but some of them are really Labour voters who want to push Labour left.

I think the Greens supporting National will be too much this time.  But James Shaw is on my radio right now, talking about how Bill English is welcome to call him - perhaps a hint of where Shaw see the Greens in the future.  Their job isn't to deliver disgruntled Labour voters to Labour; their job is to protect the environment.  They can't do that at all from the opposition benches.  They can do something in government.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The 2017 election thread

Pre-Election Witterings (written before polls closed, but not posted until after 7pm)  I gave Ian Lees-Galloway my constituency vote, and my party vote to the Greens.  I wanted to deny National the great city of Palmerston North, and make sure the Greens got into parliament.

As for who forms the government ... I am not feeling optimistic.  Others may have been carried away by Jacindamania, but I have remained dourly unimpressed.

Almost.  It was hard, as the polls seemed to surge ever upwards ... But I felt it would be a struggle for Labour to take the lead, and retain it. The collapse of the Greens and the waning of Winston Peters helped ... But Labour have not made decisive inroads into National's support.

43% seems to be the magic number, allowing a government to be formed with just one significant other.  For Labour, it will (probably) mean they can form a coalition with the Greens (lots of caveats apply) and, perhaps, the Maori Party, and freeze New Zealand first out.  That would be my ideal result.  For National, 43% would mean they can call out to Winston, and their ACT tail-ender.

Unfortunately I think National are more likely to breach 43%.

The other day I predicted Nats on 43% and Labour on 39%.  Banging those figures into the elections calculator gives the following parliament:
  • ACT New Zealand - 1 seat
  • Greens - 9 seats
  • Labour - 47 seats
  • Māori Party - 1 seat
  • National - 52 seats
  • NZ 1st  - 10 seats
Which looks unpleasantly like a National-NZ 1st-ACT coalition government.  I don't think Winston will have a bar of a coalition with the Greens.  He will probably go with the largest party and the simplest (and most flattering for him) arrangement.  That probably means National.

Diligent lurgee watchers will note I've abandoned my hopes of Hone Harawira and Mana staging a comeback in Te Tai Tokerau.  If he does pull it off it may create an overhang; but given Labour's churlish attitude towards Mana, it probably doesn't make things easier for them.

7.03 Listening to coverage with John Campbell.

7.06 Lprent (who told me off for advocating eating the rich, earlier in the day) has an election thread on The Standard.  I imagine it will be a bit livelier than this one.  But mine is best.

7.09 1.8% counted!

7.10 2% counted!  I can't keep up!  Alas, my prediction is very on-the-nose thus far.  I remember 2005, where Labour started well behind and slowly dragged it back, eventually crossing over in the final few votes.  Subsequent elections have been far more static, with the initial figures hardly changing.  I hope for the former, expect the latter.

7.14 I can't hear him, but I can see Mike Hosking.  And Michelle Boag.  This may be more than I can endure.  Time to break out the whisky.

7.20 If my prediction and the early results hold, the left will have to take a long honest look at itself.  This is the National Party shaping up for a forth term, and retain its vote share inspite of losing John Key.  Blunty, they have to acknowledge that this is not a leftwing country that has inexplicably voted for National for a decade; it is a rightwing country that occasionally does the decent thing.  Labour and the wider left will have to reconsider what it stands for.  This isn't how I want things to be, but it is how I think they are.

7.24 Blaming New Zealanders for rejecting Labour - if they have - is to miss the point.  If you can't win against a government that's been hanging about like a bad smell for 9 years, then you have to ask some pretty fundamental questions of yourself and your strategy.

7.26 Winston Peters tells John Campbell he'll only talk once the results are in.  Then shut up, you grisly revenant.

7.29 David Parker is picking up votes in Epsom, inspite of exhortations to the left to vote for National's Paul Goldsmith. My guess is it is ACT supporters getting confused because the Nats were voting Seymour, and the left were voting for Goldsmith.

7.31 Aotearoa Legalise Cannibas on 0.2%.  ACT on 0.4%.  Time to get rid of those absurd fringe parties that no-one really cares about.

7.36 12% counted and - hideously - National are surpassing my prediction.  Currently on 46.5%.  If that is maintained, they'll barely have lost ground from 2014.

7.47 National SLUMP to 46%, with 17% of the vote counted.  Labour SOAR to 36.5%  And Jacinda Ardern is burying Melissa Lee.  Good.

7.56 Stuart Nash ahead in Napier.  I hope he is not entertaining any notion of a leadership challenge.  Ardern has earned a full stint.

7.59 National creep up again, to   46.2%, with 20% counted.  Labour slip a bit to 36.3%.

8.00 I am disappointed.  I hadn't expected Labour to beat National, but it looks like their support has waned in the final days.  Unfortunately, it looks like New Zealand have selected the known Devil over the swanky new one.  Frustratingly, in spite of running against a corrupt, tired and dull government that has more than outstayed its welcome, Labour have failed to do anything more than capture the Green votes lost after Turei's moment of madness.  Still time for things to change, but it's hard to see Labour and Greens putting on 6%.

8.10 there's only one thing for it!  Deploy sentimental 80s soul-lite!

8.12 I'm glad I can only see Mike Hosking.  I don't think I could bear his smugness if I could hear it.

8.17 It looks like David Seymour has got Epsom, so unfortunately ACT will survive yet again.  Frustratingly, David Parker won well over 1300 votes; Seymour's current majority is just over 900 votes.  If the lefties had voted tactically they might have been able to make 2017 the final ACT (see what I did there?)

8.22 Labour still slipping ... now on 36.1% with 25% counted.  National steady on 46.2%.  If Labour drop too far 36%, my earlier warning to Stuart Nash might not be enough.  The whiff of power does strange things to people.

8.25 TOP must be finished.  Gareth Morgan won't have the patience to spend years trying to build up a real party. So, United Future gone, the Maori Party gone, Mana gone, TOP never got there ... Why does ACT have to survive this Massacre of the Minor Parties?

20.32 Labour SLIDE to 36% dead, with 28% counted.

20.38  Labour back up to 36.1%.  Put the leadership bid on ice, Stuart!

8.44 Hone Harawira 1800 votes behind Kelvin Davis.  Mana are finished.

8.48 And now it's National on 46.4% versus Labour in 35.9%, with 31% counted.  This is like 2005 in reverse - the gap is widening as the night wears on.  Basically Labour have cannibalised the Greens.  The actual balance between the right and left blocks hasn't changed.

I'm going to say it - Jacindamania was an illusion.

8.59 Said it before, but it bear repeating - Jeremy Corbyn had two years to get himself dug in and a highly ffective campaigning organisation effectively under his control. Jacinda Ardern only had the useless Labour Party.

9.00 So, a dreadful hour.  Labour slipping and National slowly moving upwards with 41% counted.  The Greens looking safe, thank goodness.  But the other minor parties seem to have been annihilated.  Apart from ACT, which seems to be as unkillable as Michael Myers.

9.18  The whisky is starting to kick in.  I'm numb.

9.25 We've got 57% of the vote counted.  National are still going up, now on 46.7% and 58 seats, with Labour down to 35.5%.  I thought I was being a miserable pessimistic Grinch, predicting 43/39.

9.39 We've got 66% of the vote counted.  National now 46.6% and Labour still 35.5%.  Greens stuck on 5.9%.  Really disappointing result, to be honest.

So it looks like National will need NZ 1st, as all their other options have been annihilated. They are welcome to him. Everything Winston touches turns to excrement. It would almost guarantee a Labour-Green victory in 2020. Whereas a Lab-Green-NZ 1st coalition would see Bill “Third Time Lucky” English installed as PM in 2020, with a majority of about 120.

9.57 Labour creep back up, a whole tenth of a percent.  But there isn't going to be a late surge liek there was in 2005.  Not with 78% of the vote counted.  National 46.5%, and Labour 35.6% .  The Greens slip a bit more, to 5.8%.

10.00 Another hour of scour.  Virtually no change in the relative position of the parties.  Everything seems to be pretty much locked in.  This may be the final posting from lefthandpalm, for tonight.

Get in the mood!

Can't believe it has been 20 years since Okay Computer.

Hang out the stars in Alabama!

Well done, Albanians, or whatever you are. Who ever thought The Great Fightback would start in Alabama? Seriously, well done. Nothi...