As always, with elections there’s new parties popping up, none of which will register meaningfully in the polls. I include the Maori Party, now under the joint leadership of John Tamihere, in that category as I suspect it’s done its dash as the maori vote returns to its traditional Labour home. So that leaves the Greens, NZ First and ACT.
ACT is guaranteed success by the Epsom manipulation handing leader David Seymour a seat.
Seymour’s vigorous and intelligent announcements during the National Party’s leadership hibernation should see him bring in new list members. If the polls are to be believed that could be as many as eight.
But in a likely heightened main Parties contest, that number could dwindle as traditional National voters revert to a resurrected party under Collins. From a governing viewpoint it doesn’t matter as ACT, regardless of MP numbers, would align with National. That said, true blue supporters should cast for ACT as their presence in meaningful numbers will put some always lacking spine into any National government.
Then there’s the Greens. It may be wishful thinking but I’m hoping they fail so a true Green party can then arise. The current Greens’ policies are a mixture of extreme left and Green issues. They dilute their desirable Green message with their unattainable yesteryear leftism. In a tight two-way Labour-National contest they could miss the 5% cut but it will be close.
Finally, there’s NZ First. The pundits have written off Shane Jones’s seat attempt while the Party polls are disastrous. But Winston’s voters are an odd mixture who, as previous polls suggest, don’t emerge in standard polling samples.
I suspect they will make the 5% cut. Furthermore, I hope so for one reason. Arguably alone in our Parliament Winston understands our biggest employer, namely small businesses.
(Like me) Winston suffers from an extremely low boredom threshold, thus he never mixes with corporate types. Rather he genuinely enjoys the company of self-starters who run businesses such as restaurants, or self-employed tradespeople, professionals, retailers and the like.
In that sense, he fills a very important role for there’s no-one in the Labour ranks who comprehend this all-important sector and probably that’s also largely true with the Nats.
Like it or not, his claim to have acted as a brake on some of the coalition’s proposed madnesses is a matter of fact, albeit unknown to the wider world.
Incidentally, when it comes to a low boredom threshold, no-one in our political history matched David Lange. I knew him well. He literally detested the company of, in pecking order, first unionists, then Party electorate enthusiasts, then corporate types and finally the wider public. Most of all, he liked being with clever witty buggers and laugh at the world.
Muldoon similarly disliked Lange’s list with one exception. He loved talking to ordinary folk, something Winston shares.
In summary it’s likely the three critical minor Parties will fight over about 15% of the vote. Deduct another 3% for the other various start-ups and that leaves 82% for National and Labour to scrap over. A conceivable split is Labour 44%, National with 38% and ACT with 6%. Then if the Greens and Winston don’t make the cut it’s a hung Parliament.
So this election is very much in the lap of the Gods, or more specifically, dependant on the minor parties outcome. It’s certainly far from a foregone situation.
Nevertheless, if one was to bet on the outcome, it’s likely a second term for Labour for a single reason, namely Jacinda’s huge popularity.