28 Jul 2008

TVNZ on Why Labour Thinks it Can Win Again

Why Labour thinks it can win again - TVNZ website
Jul 28, 2008
By Therese Arseneau
Despite languishing behind National in the polls, Prime Minister Helen Clark still believes Labour can win a fourth term. Her strategy is to get to within 10 percentage points of National by the start of the campaign, and then out-perform National during the campaign.

Is this just political posturing? Perhaps, but here are a few reasons why Labour thinks it can be done.

1) MMP
Labour has been more successful under MMP than National. They know how to win an MMP election and how to operate effectively in an MMP-elected Parliament; by moving closer to the centre; and by nurturing alliances with parties on either side of it. This has been crucial to Labour's successful election and governing strategy.

Some commentators have suggested Labour's success is due to a bias for the left built into MMP. This is incorrect. MMP has most helped Labour by being bias-free, especially in terms of geography. MMP provides an almost exact translation of votes into seats nationwide, and Labour is no longer penalised for having an excess of votes in urban electorates. Every party vote counts.

The bottom line is this - in the last three elections Labour and its allies have received more votes than National and its allies. MMP is merely the vehicle of Labour's recent success. The driver is the growth in votes due to changed demographics and the backlash against unpopular National policies of the 1990s.

2) Labour's core vote
New Zealand has experienced a seachange in party identification. Victoria University political scientists Stephen Levine and Nigel Roberts have conducted pre-election surveys for over 30 years. In 1999, for the first time ever, they found more New Zealanders identified themselves as Labour supporters than National supporters. Labour has maintained this advantage over National in subsequent pre-election surveys.

Party identification is an attachment or loyalty to a political party. It can range from a simple affinity for a party, to a tendency to vote for a party, or even to being a card-carrying party member. Labour often refers to this as its "core vote".

Having a larger core vote does not guarantee Labour election success. This is partly because the number of New Zealanders identifying with a party has declined. Moreover, identifiers do not always vote for 'their' party.

But core supporters could keep Labour in contention. Party identification remains one of the strongest predictors of voting behaviour, a majority of New Zealanders still acknowledge a party identification, and their default position is to remain loyal to their party.

3) The infrequent voter
More than 20% of New Zealand's voting age public does not vote. Roughly half are serial non-voters; the other half intermittent non-voters. The bad news for Labour is that non-voters are mostly Labourites. The 2005 New Zealand Election Study (NZES) found non-voters favoured Labour over National by a margin of 2-1.

But Labour demonstrated in 2005 that pockets of these non-voters can be mobilised. The promise of interest free student loans, National's plans to abolish the Maori seats and fears about the future of state housing provided the motivation. Labour Party President Mike Williams credits the increased turnout for Labour's victory.

People intent on not voting are excluded from polls. Getting some of this vote out could move Labour closer to National than indicated in current polls.

4) National's policies
The 2005 NZES found a majority of New Zealanders surveyed supported a fairly expansive role for government and most preferred increased social spending to tax cuts. More New Zealanders feared the power of 'big business' than trade unions. And most were supportive of owning - either fully or partially - Kiwibank, Landcorp, and the electricity industry. These views seem more in line with Labour's vision of government than National's.

This might explain National's many policy reversals and its promise to leave several key Labour programmes, such as Kiwisaver, interest-free student loans and working for families, intact under a National government. It also explains National's promise not to sell state owned assets in its first term.

National is currently operating in a policy vacuum. Key's decision to abandon the more hard-line policies championed by Don Brash and to move the party towards the centre makes sense in the MMP environment. But it has led to some confusion about what National stands for. At the moment the public has a better idea of what a National government won't do than what it will do.

Eventually though National is expected to announce a more fulsome policy platform, and to more clearly differentiate itself from the current Labour government. Labour is hoping this will give voters cause to pause and question whether they really want a National government.

5) Helen Clark
The Prime Minister is backing herself to outperform John Key in the election campaign. Her leadership has been important in past elections, particularly late in the campaign when she mobilised and reinforced support. She provided the Labour-inclined and undecided voters with a reason to vote Labour.

It is difficult to measure and quantify the impact of leadership on voting choice. Despite the heavy media focus, most election studies find the effect to be small - from 1-4 percentage points - but important if the election is close (as it was in 2005).

6) The dream scenario
Labour's dream scenario depends on a mixture of good management and good luck. Labour must keep its core vote intact and mobilised, and give intermittent voters a reason to show up on election day. National's policies must scare away some of its current soft support, and Clark's leadership must capture these swinging, undecided voters for Labour. Labour would need some help from its friends in the form of post-election backing from the Progressives and Greens. It would also need help from the Maori Party. Even then, it may still require either help from New Zealand First and United Future, and/or some other "luck" - perhaps a major and unexpected issue or two that plays out better for Labour than for National.

Is this scenario realistic? That is the topic of my next column... so stay tuned.
ONE News Political commentator Dr. Therese Arseneau is a Senior Fellow in the School of Political Science and Communications at the University of Canterbury. In the lead-up to this year's election, she will be writing a regular column for onenews.co.nz, examining New Zealand's political landscape

27 Jul 2008

Herald donates $500,000 to National??

One wonders if the NZ Herald's $500,000 donation (16 pages @ $30,000 per page as advertising ) to the National Party, thinly disguised as an "unauthorised" ( but fully endorsed by ) biography of John Key will be declared as income by the Party or debted against John Key's own Helensville campaign.
The 16 page "expose" of the life and times of John Key revealed very little about the man and his political philosophy apart from his desire to assume power and to join anything in an effort to secure personal advantage in his quest for power and influence. (An endorsement of the label- slippery flip flopper that has been fixed on him.)
One would hope that in the interests of political balance the Herald would now offer the same number of "responsible journalism" pages and resources to the leaders of the other political parties so that the public are fully informed about those who would be leaders?

18 Jul 2008

Tory Blog gets it wrong - again!!!

Over recent months the National Party advertising pamphlet - The NZ Herald has endorsed several companion bloggers as being credible news sources. This has been especially evident with the rumours being spread about the Botany electorate.
The Herald gleefully published the bloggers' rumour that Labour would put up Raymond Huo as candidate in the electorate.
When that didn't happen the Herald took up the bloggers' claims that they had forced the Labour Party to ask the candidate, Brenden Sheehan, to retire as a result of their efforts to discredit him. The baseless rumour was repeated to my informant by the editor of a suburban newspaper who, seemingly, believed it on the basis that it was "common knowledge" around the computers and water-coolers of the Herald's "news" room.
The Herald never contacted the Labour Party at any level to discover if the Bloggers' inarticulatly expressed claims were correct... but then that is par for the journalistic course here in Auckland.
The bloggers then resumed their claims that Raymond Huo would be the candidate and began running commentaries claiming that his reputation was to be questioned. No doubt the Herald would have repeated these claims as gospel, without checking their veracity, if Mr. Huo had been selected. Thus giving the Tory bloggers even greater feelings of self importance in cyberspace.
So what happened at the Labour Party selection meeting?
There were four nominees, none of whom were names being blogged about, from which University of Auckland Business School Lecturer, Koro Tawa was selected.
So, one wonders where this turn of events leaves both the Tory bloggers and the "journalists" at the Herald in terms of political credibility?
Probably at about the same level as the Herald's claim that it was publishing an "unauthorised" biography of the erstwhile leader of the National Party which had demonstrable access to the Key family archives and, therefore, must have been given some form of authorisation from within the family and party. Incidentally, if the Herald charges around $10,000 a page for advertising the 8 pages devoted to John key in Saturday's tame adverising pamphlet - The Herald would come in at around $80,000 which should be charged against Key's personal campaign in Helensville which should mean that he has already exceeded his advertising budget under the EFA.
On the other hand, will the National Party acknowledge the $80,000 donation in its accounting of donations and funds received from Trust Funds in the interests of political transparency? One doubts it!!

17 Jul 2008

The Crosby-Textor - Engkeylish connection

This article from the Australian press provides further insights into the connections between John Key and the Crosby-Textor group.
The insights given here add more to that revealed by Nicky Hager and the Sunday Star Times and provide further evidence of questionable political manipulation and the provision of borrowed clothing for the New Zealand National Party and John Key.

australian politics

4 Jul 2007

The Manipulators

John Howard has been willing to use race to differentiate himself from his opponents. Mike Clancy investigates the men — and the strategies — that have allowed Howard to get away with it

Indigenous Australians, refugees, asylum seekers, Muslims minority groups and racial issues have been at the forefront for much of John Howard's political career, starting in his days as Opposition Leader when he was widely criticised for his anti-Asian statements.

In taking so many anti-minority positions, Howard's insight has been to appreciate the potential of people's fears and resentments.

In his long years in Opposition, Howard saw a range of special interest groups develop around Paul Keating. Howard could not relate to the ideals of the time; to multiculturalism, land rights, equal opportunity, and the Government's role in promoting these in his terms 'peripheral' issues. He came to loathe what he saw as this new 'politically correct' orthodoxy and believed that the average Australian was just as angry about these issues as he was. Howard understood the underlying fears held by some Australians fears of the 'Blacks' and the 'Yellow Peril,' fears of being overrun by hordes from the north.

Howard was the first Prime Minister since the 1967 referendum who was willing to use race to differentiate himself from his opponents. How was he able to do this and not be branded a 'racist?'

To answer this question, we need look at the record of one of his key election strategists, Mark Textor. Prior to commencing work with Howard in the 1996 election campaign, Textor had worked as a market researcher for the US Republicans and big business, such as the tobacco industry. He brought with him the wizardry that would enable Howard to reassure those with resentments and racial prejudices that their attitudes were okay, while avoiding the use of overtly racist language.

Thanks to Lukas

The ABC's Background Briefing became interested in Textor and his methods in 1999, observing that he was doing something quite different from other pollsters, who would sample the entire population. Textor's key tool was market research in marginal seats. While working as a market researcher for the Northern Territory Country Liberal Party (CLP), he opted to research only White swinging voters those he described as 'the undecided, uninformed, and indifferent' so that the CLP could do whatever it took to win their vote.

Textor used his research tools to penetrate the thinking of 'soft voters' and map their underlying resentments. In the Northern Territory case, for instance, he identified dormant fears that the Government might institute one rule for Blacks and another for Whites.

This was useful (even though there was little basis to the fear) because his campaign could imply that Labor might introduce such laws if elected. The vast data Textor collected about the worries and resentments of people in marginal seats was then rolled into his campaign strategy.

One such strategy, imported directly from the United States, was push-polling a telemarketing technique that uses telephone calls to canvass potential voters. It feeds them false and damaging 'information' about an opposing candidate under the pretence of taking a poll to see how this 'information' affects the voter's choices. The intent is to 'push' the voter away from the candidate you are attacking, and towards your candidate.

Background Briefing found that Textor was behind attempts to use push-polling in the 1994 Northern Territory election campaign. Typical questions asked in a so-called market research phone poll run to this pattern:

Would you change the way you vote if you knew that Mr xxx and his Party plan to close the seas to recreational fishing as part of Aboriginal land rights if they win on Saturday? Would you change the way you vote if you knew they plan to have two sets of laws: one for Aboriginals and one for non-Aboriginals?

Typically, hypotheticals used by push-pollsters are invented. After receiving a push-poll call, the targeted voter is much less likely to vote for a candidate they now believe intends to make extreme changes if elected or a candidate they now find personally offensive because of the innuendo in the polling message. Thousands of such calls can turn an election result.

Court action was brought against Textor and the Liberals' Andrew Robb for defamation in a 1995 push-polling campaign that targeted ACT Labor candidate, Sue Robinson. Their out-of-court settlement involved an apology and a large payment to her.

Textor and Robb then drew back from push-polling. But push-polling is just one of the prongs employed in a strategy known as wedge politics. Wedge politics seeks to highlight and intensify division within communities in order to help political Parties stay in power. It does this by building fears against the 'other' typically by attacking minorities.

The truly sinister nature of the programs run by Textor and his business partner Lynton Crosby becomes apparent from their exploits beyond our shores. In 2004, the two were advisors to the UK Conservative Party Leader Michael Howard. Commentators in the British press were onto their tactics early, noting that Crosby and Textor were advising (the other) Howard to use 'immigration, asylum seekers, gypsies, law and order and abortion to exploit fear and prejudice to win the battle for votes.'

The campaign was based on billboard pictures of refugees and gypsies captioned: 'Are you thinking what I am thinking?' It's hard to decide what is more vile: the sentiment or the cowardly refusal to own up to it.

Crosby and Textor went on from their UK exploits to work for the New Zealand National Party Leader, Don Brash, in the 2005 election. Despite being up against a popular and effective incumbent in Helen Clark, Brash very nearly won. In the process, though, his tactics caused revulsion even amongst his own campaign team, leading to a major leak of Party emails, which form the basis of New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager's exposé, in his book The Hollow Men: A Study in the Politics of Deception .

But why do tactics that failed with Michael Howard and Don Brash work so well for John Howard? Is it because Australians are more vulnerable to such tactics? Or do Howard's own predispositions fit him perfectly to the role of gentlemanly racist?

Hager's conclusion is sobering:

The Crosby/Textor-style campaign tactics may be manipulative but, as John Howard's four wins in Australia demonstrate, they can work, by producing a short-term reaction from the so-called soft voters that can swing elections.

Whatever we think of the morality of the process, Textor, Crosby and Howard are masters of this demographic.

While Fraser, Hawke and Keating promoted multiculturalism, social cohesion and a 'fair go for all,' Textor has shown Howard how to create division and inflame the potential fears of the 'undecided, uninformed, and indifferent' without being branded a racist.

Howard refuses to censure the inflammatory comments of Pauline Hanson, Alan Jones and a whole gaggle of Murdoch noisemakers, cynically appealing to freedom of speech and the value of pluralism. Regarding Hanson's racist comments he said: 'In a country such as Australia people should be able to say that.' Ten years later he was using the same tactic, this time about Alan Jones's comments: '... but he is a person who articulates what a lot of people think.'

Whose interests is Howard serving here?

Howard's idea of democracy is one where you do whatever you can to win an election, even if this involves attacking and making scapegoats out of the innocent. His appetite for power trumps every other consideration. Howard is playing a dirty game, and he should be called on it, every time, unequivocally.

Progressives recognise that democracy works best when people are fully informed and not subject to manipulation. When our democratic system is being so abused, we need voters to better understand how they are being manipulated and we need to consider whether we need new regulation to control such abuses.

This is an edited extract from Michael Clancy's Howard's Seduction of Australia: Where to now?

15 Jul 2008

Inflation Rates - Even the UK Banks warn they have no magic bullets

This story demonstrates the universality of the global inflation rate and that there are no magic bullets that promise immediate relief. It is refreshing to read this report and note that there are no want to be politicos campaigning that "tax cuts will cure all and relieve the pain." Then the UK doesn't have money traders claiming that they understand global economics as party leaders.

Inflation soars to 3.8% as Bank of England warns: 'There's NOTHING we can do to stop prices rising'

By Sam Fleming and Nicola Boden

Mervyn King

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King warned of 'a sharp, but temporary, rise in inflation'

Inflation has soared to a record 3.8 per cent after a warning from the Bank of England that it can do nothing to alleviate the pain of rapidly rising prices over the coming months.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) outstripped analysts' expectations to rise by 0.5 per cent from May to June and is now almost double the Bank's two per cent target.

It is the highest level of inflation since the CPI began in 1997 and based on previous historical data, the last time it was at a similar level was 16 years ago in 1992.

The shock increase means a cut in interest rates is now even more remote despite mounting signs the UK is heading towards a recession.

In further bad news for homeowners and pensioners, the headline rate for the Retail Prices Index which is the most familiar general domestic measure of inflation used by the Government to uprate pensions and benefits, also rose - up 0.3 per cent to 4.6.

The new data from the Office for National Statistics comes after Governor Mervyn King signalled living standards will continue to be squeezed by inflation-busting increases on food and fuel well into 2009.

Attempting to curb the rampant price increases by raising interest rates sharply could lead to an even more painful economic downturn, he said.

Mr King made the comments in the Bank's annual report amid new evidence that the pressure on incomes is intensifying.

The record rise in food prices was one of the main factors behind today's inflation jump with large increases last month in beef and pork sausage prices as well as hikes in the cost of rice, milk and white bread.

Average petrol prices also rose 5.3p a litre last month to 117.6p a litre thanks to surging oil prices while diesel was up 7.3p in June, compared with a 0.6p rise over the same period a year ago.

Families are also facing higher holiday costs and a rise in the cost of computer games and DVDs.

'I'm recycling them - it's the least we can do!'

'I'm recycling them - it's the least we can do!'

The dismal figures came after a 10 per cent rise in the cost of products leaving UK factories in the year to June was revealed yesterday, in the first double-digit increase recorded by the ONS for 20 years.

Food costs rose by 11.8 per cent, while prices for petroleum products rose by 34.2 per cent, the report showed - the largest increases on record.

These are likely to feed into the prices paid by shoppers on the High Street, exacerbating Britain's inflation problem and the misery being felt by families.

Gordon Brown said yesterday that the recent rise in oil and food prices, coupled with the credit crunch, had caused 'unprecedented' problems around the world.

The Prime Minister admitted families are feeling the pain of soaring costs 'every time they go to the petrol station or the supermarket'.

He said the Government is considering taking steps to help families cope with the rising cost of living, but declined to give any detail.

'We have a responsibility to help people through these difficult times, and yes we will consider extra measures,' Mr Brown said.

The powerful GMB union warned that the Government had to take action to help struggling families to avoid a battering at the next general election.

General Secretary Paul Kenny said: 'The Government will pay a high price at the polls if it does not take more active steps to curb speculation in the oil market, which has hiked the price of everything, and take steps to dismantle the energy regulatory regime left by the Tories, which has delivered the highest electricity and gas prices in Europe.'

Today's inflation reading is well above the three per cent limit tolerated by the Bank of England, and exceeded analysts' expectations which had predicted a rise to 3.6 per cent.

But the Daily Mail's Cost of Living Index suggests the pain is even more acute for families across the country.

The cost of a basket of key products soared an annual 17.8 per cent in July, the index shows. A household which spent £100 a week on food last year now needs to find another £18 a week, or £936 a year.

Bank of England building

The Bank of England has warned living standards will continue to be squeezed

Meanwhile the annual average cost of driving a diesel car has surged by around £365, while the cost of heat and light is up by just over 14 per cent - £131 a year - taking it to £1,056.

Mr King said he expects to have to write a series of explanatory letters to Chancellor Alistair Darling over the coming months as inflation repeatedly breaches the Bank's target.

But he added that the Bank has been avoiding swingeing interest rate rises because this could drive the economy into an even steeper slowdown.

Mr King said: 'We are now faced for the second time in less than two years with the prospect of a sharp, but temporary, rise in inflation, this time mainly from the impact of energy and food price rises.

'In fact, it is likely that inflation will remain above three per cent until well into next year.

'The Monetary Policy Committee can have little impact on the path of inflation in the short term.

'It has not attempted to prevent inflation moving away from the target following the sharp rises in commodity prices.

'To do so would have required a large increase in interest rates, with such a severe impact on output and employment that it would have risked inflation falling well below target further out.'

Large rises in borrowing costs would also pile on the pain in the housing market, which is already heading for its worst slump in decades.

Mr King warned of 'very clear downside risks' to Britain's jobs market and overall economy, because of the credit crunch turmoil.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Vince Cable said the rise in factory prices to double-digit levels crosses 'a very dangerous psychological threshold'.

He added: 'It means people's expectations of future inflation will be much bigger, and sets in train the very damaging spiral of escalating prices and costs we experienced in the 1970s and late 1980s.'

12 Jul 2008

On Policing and Protest Marches:

Over the past week we have been witness to a mass march of, mainly Chinese, asians in Botany campaigning against what is seen as violent attacks on them as a distinct ethnic group and a basic analysis of the situation by different media groups.

The local throwaway paper - The Times - printed an uncritical report of the march and subsequent comments from Mr. Low and his associates which threw out a lot of heat but shed very little light on the issue.
The Herald’s analysis of the situation was similarly light-weight and, while alarmed at Mr. Low’s call for Triad help to control the perceived crimes against Asians did not put the claims under any critical scrutiny. Although, when members of the Chinese community began to express their doubts about Mr. Low’s rationale and ability to speak on their behalf the Herald did give space to their criticism.
It was left to The Sunday Star Times (13.7.08) to examine the reality behind the hype that was Mr. Low and the march.

The SST checked the difference between the perception and the reality of the situation. Once the situation was subject to analysis it becomes obvious that the perception has greater weight among the Asian community than the reality provided by the police statistics. The perceptions carry greater emotional weight and force when given the fuel of race tensions in what is the racial diverse community of the Botany electorate.

When one reads comments left by those who may be among Mr. Low’s supporters on different news sites the possibility of a racial divide and subsequent conflict becomes all too real and the Minister of Ethnic Affairs is right to be worried about talk of vigilante action from the group set up to combat violence against Asians.

Comments ranged from ACT’s (People’s Choice) politico, Williams assertion that there are too few police, that the government is failing to protect the community so the community has the right to take back the right to protect itself... one presumes he is endorsing the outside the law vigilante style “policing” advocated by Mr. Low which then calls into question Mr. Williams’ ability to adequately represent the community of Botany.
Other comments on websites called for action against those who venture into Botany from Otara and a need to be ready to take a counter offensive into the Otara streets.

If such comments are given more credence than being examples of hot-headed reactions of a few who have let their emotions get ahead of their rationality then South Auckland is on the brink of not just a socio-economic division but an explosive ethnically based socio-economic divide that will be even more explosive and divisive than anything we are presently witnessing.

While Peter Low from the Asian Anti-Crime Group said signatures are being gathered for a petition to present to Parliament calling for tougher sentences for offenders which is laudable his out bursts on Radio New Zealand and in the Press calling for the use of vigilante groups which could include Triads to patrol the streets of South Auckland is of extreme concern.

The illogic of calling for the use of imported known criminal gangs from the Asian mainland to “protect” the community against other, local, criminal gangs should have set the alarm bells ringing in the heads of local Botany politicos like Mr. Williams and Quax, should have set the alarm bells ringing in the editorial offices of the local throwaway paper and among the wider community. Thankfully calmer and more rational heads among the Chinese and wider Asian communities in the area have voiced their concerns and injected a sense of balance and responsible argument into the emotional minefield that is race relations in South Auckland.

We should take the comments of minister Chris Carter that New Zealand is still a peaceful country and it is important people do not take the law into their own hands, that comments arguing that knives and violence could be used are irresponsible as that would compound the problem, not solve it as being the voice of reason and not allow ourselves to react on the gut level, knee jerk level that has been yelled for by those who see political expediency in associating themselves with Mr. Low’s emotional extremism. We need to work towards greater cross cultural understanding, greater integration into the wider community of South Auckland instead of drifting into closed enclaves based on ethnicity each afraid of the other and each prepared to take arms against the other. We cannot, for the sake of the Nation, afford such a situation.

6 Jul 2008

Policy, Protest and Polls

The recent protest demonstrations seen on New Zealand streets are instructive, not because they are being read as being visible support for the National Party and discontent with the Labour Government but because they reflect the frustrations of interest groups when faced with issues beyond their understanding and instant solution. The Trucking Industry - because it cannot or does not want to understand how the global oil prices are beyond the ability of a single country's government to control and who refuses to recognise the need for all users, especially heavy users, of our roading to pay for necessary maintenance. The Asian Vigilante group - because it expects immediate arrests and police reaction when any crime occurs and, one would argue, a acceptance that all are guilty and deserving of arrest and trial until they prove themselves innocent. ..... a legal belief imported from certain Asian countries like China and Malaysia.

The incomprehension of the issues and concerns coupled with the lack of immediate, short term solutions in the face of problems that require long term, often global, action has allowed the National Party’s Crosby-Textor manufactured silence to be interpreted as possession of policies that will solve all.

The Trucking industry, the Asian Vigilante call group and others need to realise that National under John Key has no more control over the big international global trends than the Governments of Helen Clark, Gordon Brown, George Bush or Kevin Rudd have.

For the Truckies to believe that the costs of running their trucks on New Zealand roads will be reduced because John Key stands, Canute like on the present high tide mark of oil prices and road repair costs, and declares “I believe that big tax cuts are the solution to all social and economic problems so the cost of fuel and that of repairing our roads will now fall below all current costs” is to believe that Frank Baum’s Wizard was the possessor of real magical powers.

For Mr. Low’s Asian Vigilante Group to believe that because John Key stands, Canute like on the present high tide mark of public investment in Policing and social programmes addressing issues like criminal violence, and declares “I believe that big tax cuts are the solution to all social and economic problems so once they are imposed all the social issues you are worried about will go away” is to believe that a simple spell will immediately recreate the society he imagined existed when he migrated here.

Unfortunately for both groups, the Truckies and the Asian Vigilantes, promises of tax cuts, the reduction of present working conditions and silence won’t reduce “road user charges”, fuel prices, rising food prices or improve the quality of the policing of our communities or the provision of social services designed to alleviate current social problems. They will only add to the problems and allow those that are within the control of government to become worse.

A good question that should be thrown at any aspiring Prime Minister who offers a quick fix solution to any issue would be: “ How will an incoming New Zealand Government, under your leadership,act to limit the impact of the international drive to develop and secure bio-fuels by diverting land from the production of food crops into agri-industrial production on the price of food in our shops given that the World Bank estimates this has been the prime cause factor in pushing international food prices up by 75% plus?”

Another good question might be: “ How would increased tax cuts result in better policing and the provision of a well resourced and funded police force in our communities?”

One doubts if any coherent answer would be forth coming.