Peter Williams: Where is your vote going?

Opinion 15/10/2019

OPINION: The worst number in the 1 News Colmar Brunton poll last night was the number of don’t know and don’t care voters. It hit 18 percent, which when you couple it with the nationwide local body election turnout of under 50 percent, suggests that apathy is alive and well, or should that be asleep and well, all over the country.

To you people that don’t care about politics and don’t want to engage in the political process even through an opinion poll, I say tough. Make your bed and lie in it. One of these days you’ll understand that the right to vote is the most precious privilege a citizen can have.

But thankfully most of us do care, and both polls of the last three days tell us we are still a nation that cannot quite make up its mind about who we want in charge. The race to the 2020 election will be a nail biter and I think we’re all still waiting for that game changer policy, that big, big deal which will swing one major party or the other into an election winning lead. 

I think that deep down we are still a country that would prefer a centre right leadership but we also still revel in celebrity leaders, or failing that, really strong and decisive political personalities. Think of the last 20 years in New Zealand politics and it’s been about three people. Clark, Key and Ardern. We think little about Bill English, and actually feel sorry for him as a man who couldn’t have done much more except have a less toxic relationship with Winston.

The leader is so important in a political party. Currently Labour’s leader is about the only asset they’ve got, well that and an economy which is cash flow positive, while National seem to be strong almost in spite of their fundamentally unpopular leader.

I’m not completely certain of the history of polls, but I imagine it’s been 25 years since we’ve had a gap between party popularity and preferred Prime Minister as wide as National and Simon Bridges are at the moment. The last time it was like this was in the early days of Helen Clark leading Labour in opposition in the mid-90s. And look what happened to her.

So Simon there is some history on your side, but you can’t help thinking that given a John Key type in charge, the Nats would be miles ahead in the polls. But they don’t have one, and frankly with every passing day Bridges seems more and more in control and command of his job.

But unless Labour start actually getting some serious stuff done, and getting some good policy wins in the next 12 months, they are not looking good. Too many policy failures, too many working groups and discussion papers, and too much legislation which is a knee jerk reaction. Two thirds of the way through their term and they haven’t actually landed any transformational deal.

So about a year out from the election, let’s have our own poll about your standing about your party preference.

In particular, if you voted New Zealand First last time, how are you feeling now and will you back Winston again next year, or has he let you down by being part of a left leaning government? I’m actually really glad he’s been there, otherwise we’d have a capital gains tax, and we’d have a pretty crazy Zero Carbon bill and Emissions Trading Scheme in place now. But his inherent reasonableness on policy at least isn’t translating into support in the opinion polls.

So a year out where is your vote going? More significantly if the party you support is to form the government, what winning policy should they announce in the next 12 months which might be a game changer?

Peter Williams is host of Mornings on Magic Talk, weekdays 9am – 12pm.