Saturday, May 27, 2023

Josie Pagani: So, you want to win the election?

“Who do you think will win?”

The question is an occupational hazard of bloviating about politics in public forums. I usually answer declaratively: I don't know.

The quest for predictions recalls the Nobel laureate economist Kenneth Arrow, who did a tour of duty as a weather forecaster for the United States Army during World War II. He was ordered to evaluate mathematical models for predicting the weather one month ahead, which he duly did, and found them all worthless. Informed of his findings, his superiors sent back another order: “The Commanding General is well aware the forecasts are useless. However, he needs them anyway for planning purposes.”

This late in the piece, we usually have a strong view about how the vote will go. The change of prime minister and the reset policy agenda has made the horse race closer.

National bungled the Budget. It doesn’t look well-organised. Its candidate selections are weak and dominated by young men in blue suits and the life experience of prefects. It doesn’t quite look ready for government yet. Neither did Labour three months before the 2017 election – and it really wasn’t.

Voter dissatisfaction with National and Labour is high, so minor parties are rising. I expect ACT, the Greens, Te Pāti Māori and NZ First all to have a successful year by their standards.

Expect to see NZ First return because if Shane Jones wins Northland, it’s hard for Labour to win. NZ First has ruled out Labour.

If National wins Northland, it loses the election. Without NZ First, Labour with the Greens and Te Pāti Māori may nudge ahead of National and ACT. All that winning in Northland accomplishes for National is a reshuffle of the party list. The calculation should be easy.

Late in the campaign voters will weigh the composition of the winning coalition. If a National-ACT coalition looks likely, voters have a history of choosing a counterweight. NZ First and ACT therefore have a mutual interest in the success of the other, at the expense of National, because the stronger either of them looks, the stronger the case for the other.

The election outcome hinges on the ability of each party to define the problem they are the answer to.

Labour's strategy will be to make the election about the future, not the past. It will cast bread-and-butter policies as the alternative to risk. Chippie's familiar leadership versus fear of cuts.

Both parties will try to put themselves on the side of the many, and cast their opponent as a tool of special interests or privilege, which is why National walked into a trap when it promised to bring back charges for medicine. Try these billboard slogans: “Tax the sick. They have it too easy” or, "Trust us. The doctors and nurses are wrong."

National is casting Labour as a coalition of chaos.

Remember those TV ads that had a boat of athletic rowers making swift progress while their feckless opponents squabbled? Those ads will work if the Greens are imploding, but not if National reprises its 2020 candidate slate of wide boys and sex pests.

As a teenager, I painted my nails black, skived off school to smoke cigarettes, and collected cuttings on everything from Northern Ireland, to the Falklands War. I still have a folder decorated with colourful wild flowers and birds, titled “US invasion of Grenada”.

More usefully I kept a folder on, “how to win elections”.

Start with an honest analysis of why your polls are poor. If voters are rejecting you, it's unlikely to be because they reject your values and more likely that you're stuck playing classic hits when the musical trend has moved on. The voters are always right.

Inflation is an example. The cost of living is shifting people's views. Neither “more spending” nor “tax cuts” is a credible response. Find a new song.

Elections are usually about the future. I have been at meetings this year where ministers list the Government's achievements since 2017 to polite applause. No-one listens.

If only they had risked a serious discussion of problems we share, the tough choices ahead, and an inspirational promise to make the right call, the room would have lit up.

Voters are fed up with the politics of diplomacy and a political culture that coughs up backbenchers with the kind of anonymity you usually only get in a witness protection programme. The politics of diplomacy focuses on feelings and empathy – not tough choices and persuasion.

If you want to win, be prepared to lose. Politics is about how we live our lives, the work we do and what is important to us after work. It’s a vocation not a career.......The full article is published HERE

Josie Pagani is a commentator on current affairs and a regular contributor to Stuff. She works in geopolitics, aid and development, and governance.


TJS said...

Keep watching Pagani. Look and learn.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more Josie. All we are getting is blah, blah.
What we want is soapbox stuff. Someone spouting what the issues are and what they will try to do about them.
Why are they all so out of touch with the real world?
Chris Hipkins must have no capacity for self-reflection whatsoever.
He reminds me of a squirrel gathering nuts for winter. He has frolicked through Summer (last 5 years everything up) and now he wants to save something for the voters' Winter of Discontent.
Unbelievably, they are still spouting how transformational they have been!

TJS said...

Transformational they have been, Transformation into misery, chaos and poverty!

What we are talking about is a refusal to acknowledge the deep seated malcontent which abounds! On every issue. So yes I suppose National are doing a poor job at shouting it out, as if seemingly castrated, their only option is the softly softly approach. But they will win this election for who else can people choose to bring about the change that we desperately need? But it will take a whole lot more than this that is for certain.

What I do detect is subdifuge and it is all about. The only party alluding to anything which might be going on and who are getting any media attention is TPM but when they call out something so patently obvious re. Ukraine/ Russia they are ridiculed by the commentator here for calling out the NAZI antics of the Ukaine, NATO, the US, the UK and the EU. But because they behave like NAZI's themselves?

It is not the only thing which brings the malcontent and it will not go away by sweeping it under the carpet. Everything and everyone in pollitics seemingly is broken and the lies and deception is just too blomming obvious now. There are other pollitical parties. Strangely or conveniently given a very wide berth. I like Mat King's Democracy NZ and they have a good chance to do well in the Northland seat too. They are speaking up. I am for that and would love to see them do well. But they will be smeared at every opportunity.