"Dead Cat" bounce

PM’s dead cat bounce worry – Opinion: views on the news on Stuff.co.nz

Richard Long writes in the DomPost about Labour’s “dead cat” bounce in the polls and the disaster that awaits them by pushing through the Electoral Finance Bill in great haste.
[quote]This is the season for festive political cliches. “Time for a change” is one, after the ousting of long- term Australian leader John Howard. “Dead cat bounce” is another ? an unscientific summary by one expert to explain Labour’s bounce-back to a five per cent opinion poll gap three weeks ago, only to lose that in dramatic style last week as the gap opened up to double figures again.

The Australian election also disproved a third cliche ? “it’s the economy, stupid” ? the American theory that it is practically impossible to dislodge the incumbents when the economy is booming.

If it happened to Mr Howard, the argument goes, it could happen here, where things don’t look nearly so rosy and where the Government is mired in awkward political problems.

The Electoral Finance Bill is the classic among these, with Labour, tied to the demands of the Greens, pig-headedly proceeding with a blatantly undemocratic measure to restrict freedom of speech in election year despite howls of protest from the electorate.

In many ways this is an echo of Labour’s earlier stand on its illegal spend of $800,000 of taxpayers’ funds on its election pledge card for the 2005 election. For weeks after the election Labour took the view that this rort, despite the ruling of the auditor-general, was perfectly acceptable.

Heather Simpson, Labour chief of staff, wrote to Parliamentary Services, instructing it to pay the bills. Prime Minister Helen Clark thought she could ride out the storm, calculating that on such a complicated issue the reaction would die away.

In fact, the electorate saw it in starkly simple terms, remained incensed, and Labour, faced with a polls collapse, had to back down and pay the money back.

Labour no doubt initially calculated that by repeatedly shouting “rich money-men”, “evil manipulators” and “wealthy Brethren” it would be able to ram the Electoral Finance Bill through with general public approval even if the Nats screamed blue murder.

In fact, the electorate detected very quickly that the measure would screw the scrum on election-year freedom of speech, leaving the field mainly to the political parties and taxpayer- funded departmental advertising lauding the benefits of “Working for Families” and other such packages.

IN Auckland, in particular, the swing, in a few weeks, has gone phenomenally anti- Government, according to last week’s Herald-DigiPoll.

Labour dropped to 33.4 per cent support in Auckland compared with National’s 55 per cent. (Elsewhere the comparison was Labour 40.3 per cent, National 49.5.)

Also worrying for Labour was the Greens’ nationwide dip to 3.5 per cent support. Astonishingly, they are down to less than one per cent support in Auckland. Without a constituency seat they would drop off the parliamentary map unless they cross the five per cent vote threshold.

The Greens see the battle royal between National and Labour as causing the third party squeeze.

NZ First leader Winston Peters may stand again in Tauranga to give his party a lifeline, leaving Labour to direct its votes his way. But there is no obvious seat Labour can swing to the Greens. That’s more difficult now that National’s zany but tenacious Sandra Goudie has her grip on Coromandel.

In Auckland the Greens’ slump could be partly a result of diabolical traffic problems. It keeps getting worse. For example, it took me 90 minutes by cab from Auckland city to the airport in a non-rush-hour traffic snarl-up last week. The cab driver had seen nothing like it. And that was with no Beckham- type events. The cab cost more than the airfare.

Aucklanders face these problems daily, getting to work, getting the kids to school, getting in and out of Auckland at the weekends.

The perception is that with the Greens having a major say, traffic will simply get worse.

In Wellington the problem is minor in comparison, but we can wave goodbye to Transmission Gully.

After eight years in office the Government also has a crisis in Health, Education, Corrections, in productivity and the exodus to Australia, and we are stagnating on the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Index.

If I were National leader John Key I would be in no hurry to propose alternatives.

It should be up to the Government, in its ninth year in office, to demonstrate that it can listen to the electorate and fix its failures.[/quote]

I think Richard must read the blogs because that pretty much sums up exactly what David and myself plus a few other have been saying. labour has lost Auckland and they aren’t getting it back anytime soon.

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