Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Northland by-election

This is a historic and crushing defeat for John Key and the National Pary.  Winston Peters is 4,015 votes head of his rival, with 15,359 votes. This is 54% of the vote.

Northland decides: Winston Peters takes by-election

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. File photo / Nick Reed
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. File photo / Nick Reed

The votes are in the Northland by-election and Winston Peters has romped home.

Our political team are bringing you all the action and reaction from the candidates' camps.

Political editor Tracy Watkins is with NZ First leader Winston Peters, and senior reporter Paul Easton is at National candidate Mark Osborne's camp. Stacey Kirk will be monitoring the official results as they roll in.

Stay tuned, we'll bring you all the updates, analysis and reaction to the decision that could change the makeup of Parliament. 

This photo perhaps says it all: Senior National Minister Paula Bennett watches the results come in at Mark Osborne's headquarters in Kerikeri. 

The Green Party is loving the result - after the left were decimated at the election, this must be a minor sweet victory for the oppostion block.

Here's what Green co-leader Metiria Turei has to say:

The Green Party congratulates Winston Peters on winning this seat from National. We agree with Mr Peters that his election is a clear message to the National Government in Wellington.

This is a deeply embarrassing loss for National in a traditionally safe seat. The loss of Northland shows how out of touch the National Government has become with ordinary New Zealanders.

That John Key thought his bridge and broadband bribes would work in Northland just shows how out of touch he is with ordinary Kiwis.

Hungry kids can’t eat bridges.

Northland By-Election – winners and losers
Marty Bradbury

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 5.42.35 am

29 March, 2015

Winston’s Coming

Remember when John Key said Winston had zero chance of winning and Little made his age  a negative at the beginning of the campaign?


Someone should call the Police, a 69 year old Maori chap has beaten the stuffings out of a pakeha bloke up north.

The win is ferocious with Winston gaining a majority on the night of over 4000.

This isn’t a by-election, it’s a crucifixion.

This is an unprecedented win to Winston Peters and the symbolism and significance of the win can not be left up to the usual echo chambers of commercial news punditry.

This loss to Winston damages National and punctures John Key for the first time in 7 years.

When the conservative Orange Free State of Northland turns on the Government, it means this spell has finally broken…


Most of the time we have the media telling everyone we have a Rock Star economy with big private yachts parked in the harbour, John Key’s son DJing at exclusive clubs and Auckland property valuation news headlines that border on the pornographic.

The reality of poverty in NZ is utterly ignored. It’s somewhere far, far, far away from the CEO’s of Mediaworks, Sky TV, ZB, NZ Herald and TVNZ’s plush homes in expensive burbs.

Their bubble world makes gated communities look enlightened and broad minded.

Reality popped that bubble perception with the result of this by election. The poverty is so intense in Northland, that they voted against John Key. It’s an earthquake that fractures the illusion of success that Key brandishes. The reality is that poverty in NZ has generated a political change of tide even amongst one of the most southern electorates in the North Island. These people elected a thick necked cop as their political representative by a majority of 9000. They like their politics hard right, banjos twanging and books burnt crisp in Northland.

If Key’s aspiration of wealth has been seen as an illusion from those who get the least from it, then people’s desperation forces them to act and that action creates a political reverberation that could shape the 2017 election.

There are many winners and losers here.


Winston Peters & NZ First:

He’s done it. The silver fox of NZ Politics has managed to pull off one of the greatest victories of his career, and when you consider how he entered Parliament through a recount, how he managed to slip over 5%, how he managed to take all the Maori electorates, when you consider all that, this is a mighty achievement off the backs of giants.

This sets NZ First up as the reservoir of disaffected National Party votes to run hard in all provincial electorates and opens up a lifeline for the Party post Peters, if he should ever decide to step down.

A conservative provincial voice could win electorates and build the Party vote above where they are at currently, these are all positions NZ First can consider with this success. NZ First becomes the vote for people who want to change the Government but can’t identify with Labour or the Greens. It’s a powerful position to inherit.

Northland voters:

National are now bound to cough up on their infrastructure promises and voters get to have an MP who can get things done, their opinion now becomes desperately important and they have a chance to get their concerns noticed.

The Opposition:

What this win does is rob Key of his idealogical majority. Before the win he could ram anything he liked through with his sock puppet party, ACT. Now he has to talk with Dunne, Maori Party or NZ First to pass legislation. This removes the hard edge Key needed to promise National’s Right and ends any controversial legacy projects they want to launch.  This causes much disarray amongst National ranks, watch Simon Bridges start to challenge for the top job as National’s fortunes continue to slide.

The Maori Party & United Future:

Now Key needs them to pass legislation, the Maori Party and Peter Dunne are more important than ever before. The rise of NZ First also means that if they vote against the Government on issues of principle, then they have a road back to Government with Labour & NZ First should they form a Government post 2017.



What. The. Hell. Happened? That has to be the worst by-election campaign ever. They deceive the electorate by not telling them about Mike Sabin. Then they try and bribe the electorate with 10 bridges. Then they threaten the electorate with infrastructure cuts. Then they try and blackmail locals into silence over unsealed road?

Who was their Campaign Manager? Tony Soprano?

The big money bribes and threatening negotiating style works a treat with the corporations National hands out welfare to, but it offends the street level voter. Minus the lightening rod of Kim Dotcom, voters actually get to see how dirty National plays.

This loss will start the manoeuvres for positioning in the National Party House of Cards. Watch Collins, Bridges and Bennett to start moving.

Steven Joyce:

Mr Fixit broke it. They hate Steven in Caucus and Bill English finally has this fiasco to kill off Joyce’s leadership ambitions. The knives will be out.


What the bloody hell was Labour thinking? They seemed to have no idea what they were doing, yet they had months to prepare. It was considered a shock that Winston was running, yet TDB pointed out its possibility as early as the 2nd of February and Labour had warned Key’s Office of the rumours circulating around Sabin as early as last year, so why the confused u-turning throughout the campaign?

Toby Manhire is mercilessly brilliant in his analysis of Labour’s position….
Labour candidate Andrew Little seeks to clarify his position on crap-cutting. While in a perfect world all the crap would be cut, we live in the real world, he explains, and sometimes it is necessary to leave a certain amount of crap uncut so that larger amounts of crap can be properly cut at a later date and ordinary New Zealanders understand that. As he disappears through a side door, Mr Little insists that what he can say without any equivocation is that no deal has been done with anyone. The devil is unavailable for comment.
Even though they had a secret poll showing Winston would win if they pulled their campaign, Labour went on with it anyway. Willow-Jean Prime is an incredible  candidate who shouldn’t have been put through this. What Little’s original clumsy handling of this (he first brought Winston’s age into the issue) shows is Labour still don’t know what strategy they should be taking.

Little’s Labour has rejected using an MMP strategically and instead wants Labour at 40%, well how does that happen? They either attempt to attract the non-voters with radical policy. Well, they won’t do that if they are chasing the middle. They then try and win National voters over, but that would require conservative policy that might switch off their activist base. So that leaves cannibalising NZ First vote and the Greens.

If 40% is the path to Government then that’s going to damage their relationships with the other possible coalition partners, which suggests that Labour hadn’t spoken to Winston and worked with him from the start. That means Winston can demand much more in return from Labour in terms of policy dominance that would rule out most of the socially liberal agenda of Labour activists and the Greens. After Winston helped Labour kill off Hone in Te Tai Tokerau, he could have expected more assistance from Labour, he didn’t get that which means his price to Labour in 2017 just tripled.


This dramatically reshapes their leadership contest. With NZ First in the ascension and Labour pushing the Greens, the agreed understanding between the mandarins of Labour and NZ First will be to form a minority Government which the Greens won’t be able to say not to. If the Greens elect Hague or Hughes, they need to start attacking Labour from the Left to pull votes off them rather than get snookered again. If the Greens elect Shaw or Tava then the focus on how much they would work with National becomes the only narrative which would alienate their activist base and limit any left drifting Labour voters.

Progressive Politics:

With Labour galloping to the middle and NZ First becoming the National Party protest vote, progressive politics will take a back seat as middle NZ comfort zones become the policy thresholds.

MANA was set up so that using MMP strategy their numbers plus Labour and the Greens could be the majority without requiring NZ First. This would have created an actual left wing progressive Government that would be free to pass the legislation, social  and environmental policy the present demands.

Labour decided hover that having an anti-TPPA, anti-5 Eyes party in Parliament promoting feeding the kids, 20 000 new state houses and free tertiary education was too much a populist risk to their brand and worked with Key and Winston to kill Hone off in Te Tai Tokerau.

Without that extra numbers to get to a majority enabled by sub 5% threshold MMP representation, the Left are dependent on NZ First who have always acted as a brake pedal to socially progressive legislation.

In 2017 the Left may find they win the battle only to lose the war to a Labour/NZ First minority Government who won’t directly aid the poorest amongst us for fear of being painted as helping welfare bludgers by the Political Right and Right wing media.

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