'Learn to count': Labour MP Willie Jackson fires shot at media over poll reporting

The AM Show 18/10/2019

Labour MP Willie Jackson has taken aim at the reporting around his party's fall in the polls, saying they're "happy" with where they're at.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research poll put Labour on 41.6 percent, down a whopping 9.2 percent since June. National rose 6.5 percent to 43.9 percent.

The headlines painted a less-than-rosy picture: Newshub's own headline called it a "massive tumble" for Labour, NZME said the party had "fallen dramatically" and RNZ reported it as a "plunge"

But the poll also had the Greens on 6.3 percent and NZ First below the threshold, meaning Labour and the Greens would be able to form a Government without needing Winston Peters, which many on the left would perhaps consider a better outcome than the status quo. Labour's also polling nearly 5 percent ahead of what it got at the election.

"We're very happy about the polls, alright - learn to count, you lot," Jackson told The AM Show on Friday.

If we're between 40 and 43 percent, we're the Government next time.

"Put another 8 to 10 percent on that - why are you guys reading the polls wrong? We are happy."

Photo credit: Newshub.

He said the June poll - which had Labour on 50.8 percent and able to govern alone - was wrong, suggesting Labour haven't fallen in popularity at all. 

"We were never 51 percent, and the Tories are not 47 percent. You know, we were less than 37 percent on election night - if we're averaging between 41 and 43 percent, I'm happy... because put another 10 on and we're 8 to 10 ahead of these guys. 

We're going well, so stop putting the negative spin on it. It's a great poll for Labour.

He went on to claim 4 percent is "pretty good" for NZ First between elections, which is arguably true. The three biggest polls taken right before the 2017 election - Reid Research, Roy Morgan, Colmar Brunton - had NZ First at 7.1, 6 and 4.9 percent. They ended up with 7.2 percent. A year before the 2014 election they were polling between 3.6 and 5 percent, and ended up with 8.7 percent on election day.

"They'll probably get 6 or 7 percent," said Jackson.

Collins and Jackson. Photo credit: The AM Show

National MP Judith Collins, appearing alongside Jackson on The AM Show, suggested a vote for Peters is effectively a vote for the status quo.

"Winston Peters and his party survive by going into elections telling everyone they can work with either National or Labour. He had no intention of going with National, and I don't know that he will next time either... He hasn't gone with National for 20 years."

She wouldn't say if National would rule out working with Peters, because it's not her job.

National's problem is their only viable coalition partner ACT is looking likely to end up bringing in two MPs at most.

"We are doing well. Fantastic," Collins insisted.

National's doing really well, and I think that we just have to keep focused on the important things.

Despite their status as the highest-polling party, leader Simon Bridges is still wallowing in single-figures as preferred Prime Minister. Collins was ahead of him in June, but he's overtaken her for now.

Collins said she still backs Bridges as leader.

"I'm just very happy being part of the team. Just doing my job, doing my best."

The AM Show / Newshub reporter Dan Satherley