The opening addresses of Election 2014

(Updated: more links to videos for your viewing pleasure)

Last night the opening party political addresses were broadcast on TV One, simultaneous with an All Blacks match and a live-tweeted crowd viewing of Labyrinth. So if you missed out (and don’t follow my every thought on Twitter), here’s my reaction!

(Screenshots nicked and cropped from Asher Goldman on Twitter.)

National: so corporate. Much artificial. John Key in a staged “interview” blathering about goals and targets and not changing horses midstream but really without any kind of concrete policy, while an increasingly-irritating Eminem ripoff plays. And lots of rowing. And a very clunky “Oh Bill English is a great asset FYI” line thrown in which makes me suspect succession signalling is underway.

National’s full video doesn’t seem to be available online but if you just watch the short version a few dozen times it has much the same effect. is now online here.

Labour: I loved this one. Yes, I’m biased. But the idea of getting the caucus out to do a community project, taking turns to discuss their own policy areas with real Kiwis, was genius. It was a huge contrast to National’s corporate one-man-band routine. And there were real, solid policies to work on, which is a bit of a bugbear of mine.

I actually want to help out at a community centre if it involves Andrew Little and Carol Beaumont making me cheese scones. They even got David Parker out of his suit.

You can watch Labour’s video here.

Greens: Didn’t grab me as much as Labour’s. Their focus was strongly and naturally environmental, Metiria and Russel did a great job of injecting their own stories and personality into it, but there wasn’t a strong narrative as there was with Labour’s.

You can watch the Greens’ video here.

nzfirstNZ First: Winston doing his best General Patton in front of a terribly CG’d New Zealand flag, and a diverse range of people asking rhetorical questions to camera. You may note Winston’s tie is red and black, so read into that what you will.

conservativesConservatives: Colin Craig hitting his usual talking points about binding referenda to a room of silent, bored-looking white people. He really is a charisma-free zone.

actACT: If you did not watch this, find it. Now online! Watch it! It’s the funniest thing broadcast this year and may have actually been made using Windows MovieMaker, it’s that budget.

internetInternetMana: cartoon futuristic hovercats. Enough said, really. You can watch it here.

dunnePeter Dunne: a few minutes of Dunne talking to camera about how reasonable and middle-of-the-road he is, while parroting Key’s lines about staying the course. Lacking his characteristic bow tie, which may bode poorly for him.

ALCP: Rate a mention because their video was approximately a hundred times more professional-looking than ACT’s.

Focus, Social Credit, and Brendan Horan’s outfit: Shrug.

The right’s lack of diversity

In my previous post where I talked about the diversity of policy on the left as a strength I said:

A lot of people are still stuck in a First Past the Post mode of thinking, where we have two major parties, they rule the roost, and the “minor” parties are mere annoyances who will fall in line with National or Labour as appropriate.

My point was that this isn’t the case now that we’ve got proportional representation. At least, it’s not the case for the left – but it is still kind of true on the right. There’s one big party who have the lion’s share of the vote, and a smattering of odd little parties at the kids’ table fighting for scraps and key electorates.

It’s one of the reasons National continues to poll so highly. If you’re a rightwing voter, you don’t have any other viable options. ACT under Jamie Whyte had a brief flutter at being a straight-up (if wordy and academic) “classical liberal” kind of party, but promptly descended into a race-baiting law-and-order farce again.

United Future’s day as the moderate, centrist, “common sense” party is well past its use-by, and not even the revival of the worm is going to deliver them more than one seat (and even that could be in question if a thoroughly unscientific Campbell Live poll is anything to go by).

The Conservatives are making the election campaign interesting (threatening to sue The Nation for not including Colin Craig in a debate levels of interesting), but they’re not a right-wing party so much as a collection of reactionary extremists who think not being able to whip your children is the worst crime against civil liberties of the past century.

And the Māori Party are very determined that they’re not a rightwing party, they’re just focused on getting a seat at the table.

There’s undoubtedly a lot of “centrist” or moderate voters who are supporting National too, largely on the back of John Key’s inexplicable, yet undeniably present, appeal. We can debate exactly how much of their support is truly rightwing compared to “middle New Zealand” in comments. The point is that if you are a fiscal conservative, who else are you going to vote for?

You’d think it would be inevitable that another rightwing party would be formed in this situation. There have to be rightwingers who take a different view to the National Party’s standard lines, who don’t like how (comparatively) moderate they’ve been in government. You can see from Jami-Lee Ross’ quickly-sunk strikebusting bill that there are enough people within National who want them to take a harder line.

I think they want power more. So they’re sticking with what has been a winning formula for the past two terms: an outwardly-united behemoth with a friendly leader. But there’s the trap.

ACT are becoming more and more of a sideshow with every passing day. Dunne’s grip on Ōhāriu is slipping. The Conservatives could end up wasting 3 or 4% of the party vote. And National could very well end up being the biggest party in Parliament with no viable partners, abandoned by Key the minute it’s clear they won’t be in government and with nothing to do for three years but tear themselves apart in the inevitable Joyce/Collins cage match for the leadership.

Should be fun to watch!

The Nation’s leaders’ debate

This morning in New Zealand politics can best be summed up with one fantastic image.

Image swiped and cropped from @petergraczer
TALK TO THE HAND, COLIN.

I dragged myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 9am to tune in to the first leaders’ debate of the election season – and it’s mostly Colin Craig’s fault. Had he not taken legal action to force the producers to give him a speaking slot I might honestly have missed that it was even on!

For that, and for trying to talk over Metiria Turei, resulting in the photo above, you have my grudging thanks, Colin.

In the true spirit of 21st century pseudo-journalism, here are my thoughts (and some others’) as they were tweeted in real time.

(Sale to overseas buyers, obviously.)

(It’s a great line, but also a deliberately-engineered political meme.)

(Full credit to @petergraczer for the fantastic pic of Metiria’s take-no-crap attitude.)