Voters (focussed on the govt’s performance at home) are not dazzled by Jacinda’s stardom on the global stage

The  latest  political  poll from  Newshub Reid  Research  appeared  to  show  a  huge  swing  from  its  previous  sampling in  June,  with a   9.2% fall in  support  for Labour  (from  50.8%  to  41.6%)   and a 6.5% surge in support for National  (from 37.4%  to  43.9%).

Back in  June, Labour  was enjoying a  post-Budget  surge. Subsequently in  July, Colmar Brunton polling rated  National  at  45%   and Labour  43%.

So this  swing in Reid Research’s work could be seen as a  correction—-except   the overall trend  is as  worrying for  the coalition as  the slump  in the  Prime Minister’s rating  from 49%  to  38%.

This  is  also reflected  in UMR’s polling for Labour which has shown her  popularity  declining for  five  consecutive  months.

It  underlines   how voters are  less impressed   with  performance  on the international  stage,  compared with the hip pocket  effect from  what’s being  achieved  in the domestic  economy.

For  those  convinced  the strongest  motive  New Zealanders have  when they enter polling booths is to  vote  against  a  party rather than  for  it, the omens  are not good for the coalition.

The latest local body elections  turned in a  spectacular  result in  the capital   where  the  Mayor  Justin  Lester  has been ignominiously thrown  out  of  office.  His failure to make any effort to  resolve Wellington’s transport problems    should  ring a warning  in the Beehive.

Lester’s quite remarkable   pusillanimity  over the  region’s   bustrophe, and  the need for a  second  Mt Victoria  tunnel,  saw him  dispatched  after a single  term.

The light   flashing here for the Ardern  government lies in its refusal  to  pursue   motorway construction— for  example  from  Otaki to  Levin–  which is  creating  deep-seated  resentment  in  key electorates.

The  erratic trend displayed   in the successive  Newshub  Reid polls disguises  to a  degree   how  decisions  of the  coalition  government feed animosity  among  voters.

Farmers reckon   they are  being targeted  unfairly  on  climate change  issues.  In regions  like Southland,  Waikato  and  Taranaki,  this  resentment  is particularly deep-seated— and emollient gestures  from Shane Jones  are not  easing  the  belief  that  the government is  undermining the  rural  economy.

NZ First,  despite  adopting the role of champion of the regions, has seen  its support  dropping  below  5%.  A  majority of  those  who voted for NZ First in  2017 believed  they were  voting  for Winston Peters  to join National in coalition,  and are  now  so  disillusioned  they won’t do so again for the  old maestro.

The  government  in   its  initial  months offered the  excuse   that after    nine years of neglect,  the  public  could not  expect  immediate results  from  its heavier spending  in  areas  like  health and education.  But now as   the government enters  election year, the lack of any sort of improvement—and in some sectors a deterioration—the  “nine years of neglect”  theme is beginning to  rebound on  ministers.

Instead   ministerial  incompetence    has become  so  prevalent  the coalition is in danger of  setting  its  own  dismal record.

Evidence of the latest  own-goals  emerged  over the  past  week.  There was  the case   of  Immigration Minister  Iain Lees-Galloway, whose woeful performance  in deciding to  grant permanent residence  to convicted drug smuggler Karel Sroubek  would have led to  his sacking in any other administration.  The  independent  review of the  decision indicated  that the minister  hadn’t sought legal advice, only read  the summary of the papers presented to him,  and then  appeared to  ignore  the material contained in the case file  summary  against granting permanent  residency.

This  ILG incompetence followed the  revelation  that  Eugenie Sage’s  decision to  block a land  sale  for   Waihi Mines to develop  tailing ponds  had been overturned  by two senior  Labour ministers.  It  appeared  Labour  feared   if the Sage  decision  had been  judicially reviewed, it  would have been found to have been made outside  the criteria laid down  in the law.

The  Sage and  Lees-Galloway examples of  ministerial  incompetence come on  top  of   Phil Twyford’s  KiwiBuild  fiasco,  David Clark’s bumbling in   Health  (think  of  the  lack of measles vaccine  or the  DHBs’ Ballooning deficits)  and  Carmel  Sepuloni’s  $1bn  beneficiary overpayment.

And have the  problems of homelessness  or  child poverty been solved?

Even  on climate change, it is   clear  from recent  protest  marches  and  Extinction Rebellion  action, elements who once  supported  this government  are in denial.

Other  issues  are   eroding the confidence of  voters. The  most  worrying   for  the  coalition is one  of its own making, in its “well-being”  slogan. Not many  NZers,  particularly   in the middle  ground,   where elections are  fought and  won,  have the  feeling  their  well-being is  higher  now than, say,  under John Key’s administration.

Time for  Finance  Minister  Grant  Robertson  to step  up  and  announce  deep   tax  cuts?

Don’t bet on it.

3 thoughts on “Voters (focussed on the govt’s performance at home) are not dazzled by Jacinda’s stardom on the global stage

  1. Yes the coalition’s incompetence and general arrogance is starting to catch up with them. But Labour will never agree to tax cuts. Instead they will try to buy the election with the $7.5 billion surplus, increasing handouts to their beneficiary supporters and bribing another cohort of students. And don’t forget we have the “royal” wedding to look forward to and who knows what else. Pity about the Nobel Prize though.

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  2. The Prime Minister will regret not sacking a few of her ministers for underperformance. She would be polling better now because she would have showed a willingness to punish failure

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    1. Yes but who would she replace them with? Labour’s talent pool is as shallow as a carpark puddle, and selection is complicated by the ideological requirement to balance competing claims for racial, gender and sexual preference representation.

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