Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Does tax evasion cost New Zealand?

The Press reports on research by an outfit called the International Tax Justice Network claiming that tax evasion costs the New Zealand Government more than NZ$7 billion a year in lost tax.

Let's be clear, the Government isn't New Zealand and so the loss is not akin to everyone suffering. 

It's a very simplistic view to presume that somehow this is lost sales, stolen money or anything of the sort, or that behaviour wouldn't change if people paid tax on the transactions listed.   Indeed it is quite false.

For a start, some cash jobs simply wouldn't be done if they were subject to tax.  The value generated from it wouldn't happen, and the consumer would spend the money on something else or save it, which may or may not generate tax.   In other words, tax changes behaviour and so the so-called "black" economy would be smaller if it was subject to tax.  That NZ$20 billion "shadow" economy would be less and so there would be less wealth overall.

When PWC tax partner Geof Nightingale says "If we could tax that shadow economy, we would either have more roads or hospitals or get out of deficit faster" he's quite wrong. For a start, he presumes the shadow economy wouldn't shrink significantly if it was taxed.
Secondly, it is a bold assumption to presume government would spend the money better than the people trading the goods and services.  Even if you go beyond unlimited free air travel for MPs into buying up an unprofitable railway, funding radio stations you don't listen to, paying welfare benefits to convicted murderers and subsidising businesses, government spending is far from frugal or careful enough to presume that people are not better off because they are paying less tax.  Certainly if the businessmen doing cash jobs buys things from my shop (even if I pay tax), I am better off, as are the businesses who sold me those goods, and the employees of those businesses and so on.   How does Nightingale know what is best for them? That sets aside the detail that roads are paid for by what are effectively user charges on motorists (try getting out of paying fuel tax, although RUC is easier to evade).   He could have said more cultural advisors, more planners, more policy wonks, more NZ On Air funded TV programmes, more overseas travel for bureaucrats and politicians, more assistance for hand-picked businesses, more welfare benefits so people subscribe to Sky TV more.   Why is that good?

Yet he then says "We anecdotally hear there's quite a lot of cash business going on in Christchurch these days".  You don't say?  So after the government basically told businesses down town "it's not your property now, you can't go near it" and "oops we demolished your building, forget to tell you or ask you", do you really think people in Christchurch have respect for paying taxes whilst they engage in voluntary productive exchange of goods and services?  Leave these people alone, they haven't hurt you and they are trying to rebuild their lives and businesses, businesses that create wealth, not take wealth.

In a low tax, small government New Zealand, Geof Nightingale may have to get another job, for at the most, taxation would be very low, very simple and as such few would seek to evade it, because it wouldn't be confiscating a sizeable part of your income.  It wouldn't be worth it for most businesses to bother hiring the likes of him.

Finally, it's important to point out to the IRD spokesman who said "our hidden economy and property transaction areas were showing a return on investment of $5.70 for every dollar invested" that this isn't an economic return.  It is just that for every dollar spent on a tax snoop (consider the psychology behind someone who chooses to spy on productive peaceful people to find out if they are coughing up "their share" to the state) the snoops recover $5.70 from the people they catch - catch not actually initially force or fraud on anyone, except of course defrauding the state - a state that will happily take taxes all its life from people and if you die before the age of national superannuation, not give your estate anything for your troubles.  A state that will promise one thing, and then deliver something else.  A state which when it fails to answer your 111 call, or fails to investigate the crime you're a victim of, or fails to get you healthcare when you need it, isn't accountable and wont pay you a refund. 

No.  Every dollar IRD takes is a dollar that otherwise would have been spent on a good or service someone wanted, or invested to make more dollars, or donated to help someone or something as a charity.  Because fundamentally, the difference between the money received by those in the cash economy and the money received by the state, is that in the former case, the person getting paid ASKED and couldn't use violence to demand anyone pay for whatever goods or services he offered.

When the state is small, and tax is low, the size of the so-called "black" economy shrinks (excluding the other "black" economy of banned goods or services) as evasion isn't worth it, simply because people have more of their own money.  That money isn't a loss to New Zealand, because it is part of GDP and because it circulates between consenting adults trading value freely.  The only concern comes from the government bemoaning that it hasn't got its slice of a cake that it had little to do with baking in the first place.

Pay for our pensions, but don't expect to afford your own

That's the fundamental cry of the public sector unions which are going on strike today in the UK.  Around 2 million are going on strike, which most attention given to border control staff who by going on industrial action will see massive queues at airports as people arrive from international flights.  

The people going on strike are opposing having the age at which they receive their employer (read state, read taxpayer funded) pension increased to match the actual age at which people get the state pension, they are opposing having to contribute more and opposing a shift from final salary pensions (you know, the type you could only dream of in the private sector) to average wage pensions.

I like Old Holborn's proposed message to the strikers seen below:

People whose incomes and employment are dependent on the private sector generating wealth, hiring employees and paying taxes to pay for them, are wanting these same people to continue to carry the burden of paying the ungrateful sods pensions that none of the rest of us could ever dream of.   Yes, some are upset that they perform useful jobs (in schools and hospitals) and were "promised" final salary pensions when given them by previous governments.  Well here's the news, government promises are worthless - they are promising to spend money that isn't theirs, that they don't have and to pass on the bill to someone else and blame them when they can't deliver (let's call that the Labour Party).   Make your own plans for retirement, don't trust politicians to make them for you.

Sadly it was the unions' lackeys in power - the Labour Party - that sold their members this unaffordable, unfunded pup, that they relied upon for their careers, and now face losing because it can't be afforded.  

So the anger from the strikers shouldn't be directed at the government, it should be directed at their unions and the Labour Party - they were promised something that couldn't be delivered or afforded, and which demanded taxpayers pay for something they themselves could never get.  
The enormous lie perpetuated by the unions is to pretend the UK didn't have a budget deficit or substantial public debt before the financial crisis - it did.  The unions pretend the spending cuts are to "pay for the banks".  They are not, they are to get current spending balanced, and the banks haven't been funded by the state since Gordon Brown bailed out three of them only, two years ago.  Bank bailouts aren't happening every year.

The public finances in the UK are dire.  The UK's public debt is set to reach 94% of GDP in 2014-15, worse than Germany, France or the Eurozone average, only being better than Italy and Greece - no great achievement.  Public debt is set to increase by a total of £520 billion in the life of this government.   Debt isn't being cut, the growth of it is being slowed.  The total extent of government spending cuts in the life of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition will only be 3.4% in real terms (after inflation) between 2010 and 2015.  Another 1.9% of cuts are forecast for the two subsequent years.  Hardly brutal, hardly radical.  Only then will be UK budget actually be in balance.  
Those striking are following the propaganda of those who want government to borrow more and more, and hope they aren't around when Britain has a sovereign debt crisis ala Greece or Italy, either that or they want to tax the "rich", which presumes they'll hang around for the privilege.   I doubt most would, and they would take their businesses and the jobs with them.

If the private sector said "sod it" and went on strike, and stopped working, stopped running businesses and stopped paying taxes, then this lot would truly be stuffed.  That's why the government should sit quietly, make sure people know that to give them what they want, there would have to be more borrowing (raising interest rates), more taxes or less spending elsewhere.  The unions don't say what option they want - let's call them out on this, and say no. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Piggies in the trough

Stuff reports "Goodie bags containing iPads and smartphones and instructions on how to maximise your free air travel and accommodation perks – it must be induction day for Parliament's new MPs. Goodie bags containing iPads and smartphones and instructions on how to maximise your free air travel and accommodation perks – it must be induction day for Parliament's new MPs... Posters hanging in booths outlined their new perks – "unlimited domestic travel", exclaimed one".

All of the new MPs, National, Labour, Greens, NZ First, to a man and woman, soaked it up, took what they were "entitled to", at your expense.   I bet John Banks will too.

None of those talked to expressed disgust and remorse, including those who claim to speak on behalf of the poor. None showed interest in limiting their domestic air travel to trips to and from their constituency. 

Yet most of you voted for them, so really you only have yourselves to blame right?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Where to from here for those of us who believe in freedom?

ACT, Libertarianz, Freedom Party, Liberal Party, whatever name there is for the future of those at the libertarian/freedom oriented end of the political spectrum is not important right now. What is important is that those of us who share some fairly core values and principles agree to sit down and talk. The options that have been taken up till now have been somewhat spent. ACT has long been the pragmatic option, but until 2008 was never part of government. In government, many (including myself) believe it under-delivered, and certainly the strategy taken by the leadership the past few months has been an abject failure. I wont repeat my previous views on this, but needless to say ACT as a liberal force for more freedom and less government cannot limp along simply led by John Banks to the next election.  I suspect even he realises that the status quo isn't sustainable.

To be fair to Libertarianz, every election since the 2002 administrative debacle has been an improvement, both in campaigning style and result. Yet without getting virtually any media attention or having enough money to buy advertising, it struggles to get heard. Even when it had its peak in 1999, it was due to Lindsay Perigo’s leadership and presence on a nationwide radio station. Yet this end of the political spectrum has been sadly filled with the sorts of chasms and arguments that are not entirely dissimilar from that of the far left. It occasionally has been a little like the Trotskyites vs. the Stalinists vs. the Maoists. ACT has blamed Libertarianz for being too purist, Libertarianz has blamed ACT for being soft sellouts and others have said that Christians have felt excluded, along with non-objectivists, or even those who are conservatives in their personal life and have conservative values, but don't believe the state should impose them.  Bear in mind I’m an objectivist libertarian and Libertarianz member who has voted Libertarianz four times and ACT twice since MMP came along.

The bare faced truth that needs to be admitted is that there is a difference between seeking to win Parliamentary representation and influence, and to be a lobby group that seeks to influence more widely than that. Those on the left, including the environmentalists are expert in doing this, having set up a number of moderate to high profile lobby groups that focus on specific issues. Those of us who want less government, need to do more organising, less in-fighting and recognise the difference between running a successful political party, lobbying on issues and being movements of populism or philosophy. 

I agree with Peter Cresswell that those of us who are freedom lovers need to start talking. So I suggest there be a conference of some sort in that light.

The default invitees being senior members of ACT and Libertarianz, and others specifically invited by people from both parties (who may come from National or elsewhere inside or outside politics). It should be a session to think, not necessarily to decide what to do, but to spend time to chew the fat and provide the catalyst to do more thinking, before acting.  It shouldn't be a session to grandstand or for publicity seekers, but a serious closed conference.   It wont be to make final decisions, but to make substantive progress on what to do next.  It should form the basis to produce proposals for discussions with existing party members, and to reach a conclusion within a year.

The agenda should be as follows:

- Introductions ;

- What sort of objectives should exist for a political party of freedom;
o Principles and values; 
o Political goals 

- Understanding philosophy (where do our principles and values come from ((intention to understand, not debate, how different people came to the freedom/liberal/libertarian end of the spectrum));

- Key policies and issues (identifying policies that unite us, and those that divide us. Not looking for detailed discussion about tax rates, but to establish common ground and to understand clearly the issues that cause some of us problems and finding a way to address, discuss them);

- What’s right about ACT and Libertarianz, and what is wrong;

- What a successful party of freedom would look like, campaign like, and focus on;

- What to avoid (Open, frank and honest discussion about what a future party should avoid);

- Options (revitalising ACT, strengthening Libertarianz, starting from scratch, rebranding and merging) with the objective of narrowing down preferences to two;and

- Next steps (widening discussion with respective parties, another meeting to create concrete proposals). 

This should happen next year, around mid-year (so people will want to stay inside). It should be good willed, good natured and well disciplined. It shouldn’t just be a meeting of suits, or a meeting of loud mouthed angry ranters, but a meeting of good people, with good intentions, who have by and large, shared values, but haven’t been talking from first principles and objectives with each other.  Bear in mind also that what may finally come could be a two pronged strategy - one involving a political party, another involving a think tank/lobby group (or two?).

The most important thing of all, for everyone, will be to listen. 

In advance of that, those of us in ACT, Libertarianz, and indeed freedom oriented members of National, ALCP (and others if they find themselves in a less conventional political home) should sit down and talk amongst ourselves, and with each other.  It is time to rise above the morass of noise, detail and personality clashes.  Nothing should be in or out, but it should be obvious that unless there is a consistent belief in there being less government and more freedom, then we will get nowhere. 

It’s time to not be too solipsistic and realise that this election less than 1.5% of the public voted for parties that expressly espouse less government. Many of us have been doing this for some years, but we also have eager, hard working and enthusiastic young people who reject the mainstream view that the answer to any problem is automatically that the government should do more. Let’s do it for them, do it for us, do it for the country we want New Zealand to be - I believe that at the very least it means free, prosperous, optimistic, where people are judged not by their ancestry, sex or background, but by their deeds and words. A country where being a tall poppy is not something to sneer at, but something to celebrate and aspire to. 

The conservative right has got its act together, and has built a highly credible platform that could cross the 5% threshold in 2014. 

We must do the same, but better.

Who’s with me?

P.S.  The reports that John Banks is talking to the Conservative Party to consider some sort of relationship, simply exemplifies the fact that ACT is finished.  LET Banks take whatever is left of ACT with him, let him go.  He'll never win Epsom under that banner.   I'd don't need to say the three word phrase that starts with "told", but I am SO glad I did not vote ACT to be represented by Banks.   It isn't schadenfreude at all, it's just frustration when this whole debacle is res ipsa loquitur.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Zealand election 2011 - Verdict 2 - how I'd advise the parties

My pre-election review of the parties set out what I thought of them and where they are placed, now I have reviewed them one by one according to what I'd advised them strictly politically, rather than philosophically.  After all, I'd be telling all but one of them to pack it in if I was being true to myself.   So I'll give them a score for result.

ACT:  Game virtually over.  Epic fail.  Loss of three quarters of your vote, which would have looked worse had turnout been better. You couldn't even get Don Brash to outpoll the Green candidate in North Shore, not that you tried.  Some will blame Don Brash for this, even Lindsay Perigo, others will blame John Banks and all those who resisted that strategy.   You know what I think, but bickering wont be helpful, digging deep into why a party that once got 7% now has 1% of the vote will be critical.  The campaign was abysmal, you couldn't control the fallout from the "cup of tea" meeting which the left were feral on (yes it has become more occupied by conspiracy theory baiting hate mongerers) and John Banks stopped you being liberal.  You now have two issues.  The first one is what John Banks extracts for his support of National.  Even Peter Dunne extracted maintaining his Families Commission and building Transmission Gully, what will ACT get?  If John Banks is just going to be another National MP then you have to wonder why you bothered?  There needs to be a new strategy, one that is consistently about less government, lower taxes, private property rights, choice in public services and rejecting Nanny State solutions to every problem.  John Banks is not the man to lead this.   I'll write more about my ideas later, but for now you need to be open, honest and discover what went wrong, and be aware how you can't rebuild based on John Banks, unless he can, chameleon like, be quite different from his past.  Time for some honest self-reflection to determine a new strategy for the libertarian/free market right.  Score 1/10 Future prospects bleak

Alliance:  For a brand that once commanded nearly 20% of the vote, you must now consider packing it in. From 1909 votes in 2008 to 1069 this time, the future is not bright. Unless you want to be a Dunedin based Marxist ginger group, you know your policies and philosophy are represented much more clearly and successfully in the Greens and Mana Party.  Hard left supporters know they can vote for either of those and make a difference.  I know far leftwing organisations struggle to acknowledge they are little more than a social club for people wishing people thought like them, if that's ok to you, then fine.   However, with the exception of Wigram and Dunedin (the former because some probably still think Jim Anderton leads you, the latter being family and friends), you have virtually no support and its been in free fall decline since 1993 without exception.  Consider this, what are you an Alliance of?  The Greens are gone, Mana Motuhake has been usurped by the Maori and Mana parties, the Social Creditors are gone, the Liberals were never really there and Labour is closer now to New Labour than at any time since New Labour was formed.  Yet its quaint that you bother, so keep the red flag flying, especially if you think the Greens going centrist mean they are revisionist capitalist roaders.  Although I am convinced your lives could be better spent in other ways.  Score 1/10 Future prospects irrelevance

Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party:  Once a party that gained well over 1% of the vote, it was a place people who wouldn't usually vote could cast a vote for something they cared about.   However, you seem to have reached your base, which remarkably is 9516 votes, one vote more than 2008 (although you will get a few on specials).   Yet whilst you have once hoped to get 5% you have to realise by now that most people don't vote on one issue.  I wondered if the departure of Nandor Tanczos from the Greens would have driven more your way, but it appears to have had little effect.  I expect many of those who support your issue vote Green, but there are more than a few who are on the liberal right, voting National, ACT and Libertarianz. You are more likely to be effective as a lobby group, with NORML, but that has been less than stunning in its success.  Unless you can highlight how grossly unfair the law is and get media attention for that, you're unlikely to provoke enough outrage to get enough votes on this issue.  So I think you need another strategy.  I think you need to seek the views of candidates of all parties on this issue and promote people supporting candidates (and parties) that share your view.  All Libertarianz and a few ACT candidates agree with you, but you need to shift the image of this issue from being bucolic stoners wanting to light up, to being about failed policies, reducing demands on the taxpayer and shifting police effort from cannabis to real crime.  There is no majority who will support endorsing cannabis, but you may be able to get support for those who say the status quo has failed, that it hands the product to the criminal gangs and has failed to reduce usage.   Many of you are not libertarians, have no time for free market liberals, but we actually are your greatest allies - for whilst you can convince Green party supporters, only people on the right can convince conservatives or sceptics that there is a better way to deal with drugs issues than throwing users in prison.  Reach out to those you might otherwise disagree with, and you may get more results. Score 4/10 Future prospects treading water

Conservative Party:  This has been a great start for those on the conservative right.  Colin Craig's effort has been well rewarded with a platform to build upon for next time.  The history of conservative minor parties has been poor, with the failure of the Christian Coalition to cross the threshold (I am sure many of its supporters, in retrospect, will say thankfully given the entity who led it), United Future's dabble with it, the Kiwi Party and the Family Party.  Your biggest competition is NZ First, but you do have several prospects for growth.   Peter Dunne took the Outdoor Recreation Party under his wing, which could do well to take back, since United Future's vote is ever shrinking.  NZ First is an obvious target, since it represents 21st century Muldoonism, but you have a fresher look, less personality cult and should, naturally, be able to fight on immigration, crime and one law for all.  Your hardest battle is a media keen to paint you as Graham Capill Mk. II or Brian Tamaki Mk. II.  The less you say about religion the better, the more you say about values, principles and policies, and have people who have good CVs standing for you, the better as well.  Bear in mind the media is looking for bigotry about homosexuality and hypocrisy about sex and money, if only because Capill's hypocrisy was breathtaking, and Brian Tamaki's predation of the poor and ignorant is repulsive.  Your medium term goal must to be National's next coalition partner, but you must also seek to court Pasifika and Maori votes.  Many of them are naturally conservative, and NZ First supporters.   To get further, you need to work hard,  everywhere, and find more platforms for your views and call out National whenever you can where it matters, and call out NZ First and Winston Peters.  By the way, you also need to ask that opinion polls include you too. You haven't come close to reaching your ceiling yet, but be aware of the mistakes of those before you, New Zealand is not as socially conservative as you may hope and indeed it is that matter that is perhaps the biggest impediment to the Republican Party winning office in the US.  Score 7/10 Future prospects promising

Democrats for Social Credit:  No doubt some of you think there has been a media conspiracy organised by banks, sharemarkets, multinational corporations and the like in cahoots with John Key to deny the truth of Major Douglas's amazing discovery, and if only the public knew what you knew, they'd never look back. You're probably hoping that there is global financial meltdown and the fiat fractional reserve currencies you despise go with it. While the Alliance may be a social club, I don't doubt you are.  Any of you, any at all, need to get out and have some open, listening focused conversations with economists on your own (not with other believers who will tell you that they don't understand or they do and they wont admit it because they are part of the conspiracy) and find out why not even the Occupy movement, Anti-Capitalist movements or others embrace Social Credit.  Don't be embarrassed when you find out, just move on. Yet I know many of you will be celebrating how you got over 200 more votes this time, no doubt fuelled by campaigning in a few spots, but no.   There is no future in this movement.   If you want to focus on monetary policy then look elsewhere, read Detlev Schlichter's book "Paper Money Collapse".  His answer is not social credit, but commodity backed money.  Throw away Major Douglas's work, start again, but if you want to build a political party on it then think hard.  Score 4/10  Future prospects fading away

Green Party: Around 54,000 more votes and 4 (maybe 5) new MPs, you'll be pretty stoked with that result.  However, bear in mind that it is in part due to Labour's lack of inspiration and the value of your brand that you did well.  Think yourself lucky too that you're not in government where you can easily get tainted by having to prove your policies in action and sell out others in coalition.  Still you can't be unhappy with a focus on simple messages and being positive.  You are going to have National talk to you, because it wants to lure you to the centre.  This is where you have to choose.  Do you aim to be a bigger centrist party that straddles the two major ones, or do you want to remain with your hard left roots?  Hard left roots will mean you scorn the Nats, have agreements to discuss on legislation case by case and that is it.  Centrist means you form an agreement on one or more policy areas to work on.  Big wins for you could be energy or transport, the Nats will be more likely to offer you conservation or to help on poverty issues, if you can give up asking for more welfare money.   Being seen to please your supporters with National will be valuable, but you can't offer confidence and supply to the Nats without risking Labour saying a vote for Green is a vote for National.  If you can keep your identity clear and find an area to work with the Nats, then you can play being centrist on that policy area while remaining left elsewhere.  Bear in mind your biggest electoral competition is Labour.  Score 9/10  Future prospects growing influence with National, Labour's inevitable future partner

Labour Party:  Quarter of a million voters abandoned you this time, less than half of them went to the Greens and NZ First, the majority stayed home.  The focus on asset sales wasn't inspirational enough to anyone but the faithful, the simple point is you don't yet look like a government in waiting.  You have lost the party vote in most electorates and have little presence in Auckland or the provinces, and your rump in Wellington and Dunedin is not enough.  Capital Gains Tax was a loser as was your policy detail overall.  Not enough clear simple messages on things people care about.  The Greens got an easy ride from the media, but also exploited their brand and were optimistic and issue focused.   You needed to argue party vote Labour was the only way to change the government, and chip away at a few of the Green policies that would scare the mainstream, like attitudes to the Treaty of Waitangi and the hectoring desire to tell people what to do.   However, you're probably confused moreso about NZ First.  Wakeup.  New Zealand is not seen by unionists and academics, but lots of hard working ordinary people who eschew the politically correct measured language used by you.  Winston plays them easily and you need to bring them home, by having them not feel alienated by you.   Have a leadership battle, make it a time for self-reflection and be careful to pick people who your provincial hard working core might relate to.  Meanwhile, bear in mind the next three years could be very hard for any government, be grateful it isn't you and be ready to be there if it gets so bad, you're a shoo in by default.   You also need to work on Maori voters.  You might be winning the party vote, but you need to combat the Mana Party's radicalism and the Maori Party supporting National in consecutive elections.  Score 2/10  Future prospects the only way is up, but it depends on the new leader and the economy for now

Libertarianz:  Nearly 300 more votes than last time is proportionately not a bad result, but Libertarianz still faces a series of very difficult barriers.  The wasted vote syndrome (especially with ACT's presence offering a watered down alternative), almost complete absence of media exposure and the inherent fear of radicalism by so many.   A party with good people that was once beset with infighting and being its own worst enemy by its lack of willingness to be more measured in its use of language and more focused and optimistic.  This campaign was actually quite good for what it was worth and the demons of the past are largely behind it, but with 1400 party votes it is still the "members plus family, friends and a handful" club.  Noticeably, in electorates the candidates typically do far far better than the party vote.   I will write about this later, but I believe Libertarianz and the liberal wing of ACT need to sit down and talk, and determine how to move forward.  There is a bigger constituency for having less government and to pull the Nats towards their principles.  However, those who think that way have been unwilling to throw away their votes on a party that rarely appears in the polls, and have gone elsewhere with their votes.  Spend a weekend talking about objectives and options, and look to rebuild, merge, create something new or dissolve.  The Conservative Party shows how a clear philosophy, consistent team (and some money) can achieve results.  We can do so as well. However, it is not a time to gloat, point score or be closed minded or to reject those who are less ambitious.  Think Gramsci.   The left didn't succeed by insisting on a communist party as the source of all its efforts. Score 5/10  Future prospects if it can bring on board some of ACT, be open minded and inclusive, a chance for a step change rather than a step forward.

Mana:  Given you'll see me as part of the Pakeha colonial conspiracy of capitalists, you will think I'm out to get you with this.  However, you've done ok to get 1%, but you must have hoped you'd pick up Annette Sykes's seat and some more votes. You've bruised the Maori Party and created solidly leftwing credentials beyond the Maori vote.  You can point at the Maori Party doing deals with National and be comfortable on your patch, and you can blame Labour for not embracing the poor as much as you want.  Obviously you have a core now and you can build on it, but it need to be more than Hone and needs to woo Maori Party members and supporters more and more.  You know you'll only have real effects when Labour needs you to govern, but you know Labour has some sympathisers within.  At a time of global economic crisis you can always play the anti-capitalist card louder than any others and grab the hard-left vote consistently, bearing in mind if the Greens move further to the centre, you'll pick up some of them too.  Your cleverest move is to look wider than a Maori party, but to avoid some of the more outrageous comments of some of your leading candidates being held against you, and to avoid being seen as a one man band.  Score 6/10 Future prospects Disturbingly bright if it can nurture the Maori nationalist ideology that has been getting pushed through some educational institutions.  Labour's possible coalition partner that might push the Maori Party into oblivion.

Maori Party:  Lost more than half of your vote, two thirds seem to have gone to Mana, the rest to Labour or didn't turn out.  Hone has taken your radical wing, which is a positive for you in terms of future relations with the major parties, but you need to keep focusing on policy and seeking to be different.  Supporting National again is pragmatic and may get you some wins, but they must be sold to your voters many of whom wont want the idea that it is you keeping National in power.  National didn't need you last time, but this time is almost certainly will.  Unlike most minor parties, you can be presented as being focused on serving the interests of your voters rather than a philosophy.  Bear in mind you need to convince voters you'll support Labour if it will deliver for Maori, or National if it will.  Take on Hone when he preaches separatism and expresses outrageous and divisive views, and always be optimistic and forward looking.   Yet remember your core is the Maori seats and you need to have candidates who will inspire against strong challenges from Labour and Mana.   You need Tu Tangata candidates in their own right that can position you against being part of the larger Labour party and against the divisive Mana Party.  Score 3/10 Future prospects Hard work not being seen as National's patsy, and also fighting radical attacks from Mana.

National:  You'll all be gloating, but don't be too smug.  You have 50,000 less votes than before and was only really saved by mass defection of ACT voters to National.  You now need not only ACT and United Future but also the Maori Party.  Imagine if you needed NZ First.   Now you need to focus on message and communicating to more ordinary people.   Labour is in disarray for now, but will be back. You lost 1-2 seats to the Conservative Party, so you might think about how to appeal to some of the issues of that party.  However, in an MMP world you need coalition partners, you may prefer to leave some room for them to flourish.   Prove the part-privatisation is no big deal.  Do a deal with the Greens on conservation and energy efficiency, but be ready to attack the Greens when they are so obviously hysterical or quite separatist on Maori matters.  It's up to you, if you don't attack the Greens, nobody will.  The left attacked you through attacking ACT.  You doing the same hurts Labour, don't expect you can woo the Greens to the centre, because you wont - it is fundamentally a leftwing party, not an environmentalist party.  Winston will make a lot of noise, but you have little choice but to ignore him as he scrambles for issues, but bear in mind it is your voters he is after.  You can't cover all his conspiracies and stories, but you can say a vote for him is a vote for the Labour party.  Finally, your success is in part due to being seen to be competent with the economy.  The more waste and failure that can be found, the more you play into the hands of your opponents.  Score 8/10 Future prospects Reasonably good if the economy holds up, but a third term will depend even more on coalition partners and wooing back voters from NZ First.

NZ First:  Yes yes, bugger the pollsters.  Don't be too smug, there is the issue of your constitution and the rules.  I'd worry about that first if I was you. You might not have your Dear Leader anymore.  Otherwise, do you really think there is a future in this personality cult?  I know for some of you this is the best job ever, but it wont last.  You'll be widely laughed at for three years.  Have you figured out what life is like after Winston? No? It's called oblivion.  Your success depends on Labour remaining incapable of winning an election, but since you don't want to go with National ever again, you're rather trapped in no man's land, which is where Winston likes it I think.  However, surely you have something better to do than remain an Opposition minor MP for three years don't you? Yes you can grow by playing the one law for all card, the bash an immigrant card and reintroduction of capital punishment as well, but is that really you?  Score 9/10 Future prospects  Up to the Dear Leader baiting people's prejudices and the media going on about him.

United Future:  Oh dear Peter it is down to you more and more.  Come on, you know it's going to be like Jim Anderton's Progressive Party, it will go when you retire.  Unless you get leverage on any wider issue than Transmission Gully or the Families Commission, you'll be stuck in the middle with nothing interesting to offer.  Pray you get a chance at another worm and get seen as moderate and sensible again, otherwise sit tight and focus on Ohariu,  Score  4/10  Future prospects Comfortable retirement, but oblivion for the party

New Zealand election 2011 - Verdict 1

Whilst National is savouring victory and Labour nursing its wounds, far too many commentators still think in First Past the Post terms.   It looks like a landslide, yet it is not.  National is barely able to pull together a government, and if special votes go to the Greens (as overseas Kiwis disproportionately like voting for an image that they don't need to pay for), the Nats could face needing the Maori Party.  

National gained two seats, but ACT lost four.  This isn't a great victory, it is in fact a bleeding of support to the left, with the winners being the Greens and New Zealand First.   National's gain is mostly due to ACT supporters abandoning what they perceived as a sinking ship that may not make it.  National gained precious little from Labour, and lost more to the Conservative Party, easily costing it 3-4 seats (and the Conservative Party ate in a little to United Future, much more and Peter Dunne would be an overhang MP).   

So the truth is not that plain.  It is quite likely National faces government needing the Maori Party on confidence and supply, and that is a party that also has not had a good election.   It lost two seats, with Labour picking them up, but with the votes going to the Mana Party.  That is in part because Hone Harawira has taken the radical Maori nationalist/socialist vote, but also because of perceptions that the Maori Party is too close to National.   Let's be clear, there is no prospect for a credible government that is not National-led at this point.  It is difficult to envisage the mess that Labour-Greens-NZ First-Mana-Maori would look like as it too would also need Peter Dunne.  
So expect the Maori Party to demand more, even though by numbers, it ought to be able to demand less.  However, that is what MMP brings up, the leading party by miles is now more than ever needing support by a party that had its support halve.  

So those hoping for "steady as she goes" may find it isn't quite so steady, and that Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia will be seeking a bigger pound of flesh for their constituents.  Yet don't think National isn't aware of what it must do in the next three years.  A key long term strategy of National is (or logically should be) to woo Maori voters.  The demographics of the country are such that this is critical and the Maori Party is one vehicle that the National Party hopes to do this through.   No longer are Maori votes balkanised in four seats, but are nationwide in every electorate through the party vote - although it is notable that the Maori Party still gets more support concentrated in Maori seats than in the party vote overall.   

National will also look to do a deal with the Greens.   The obvious areas for this could be energy, conservation or transport.  So expect that you might have higher power prices, that mining on conservation land stops or suddenly a motorway is stopped for an underground rail loop.  Pulling the Greens away from Labour has to be a core strategy for National, but the Greens will be wary about that going too far, given that it will instantly scare off many of their supporters.

The Labour Party will feel hurt, but it need not be too concerned.  It is 6% higher than National was in 2002, and it is obvious where its support went.   Its loss of support roughly matches the gains of the Greens and NZ First, in short Labour needs to improve its marketing and focus, but also cater for its base of "working class" voters.  NZ First's support comes from those who see National as a party of suits, but Labour a party of academics, teachers and politically correct liberals.  These are the people that want a hardline on crime and have little time for singling out initiatives for Maori or other groups.

MMP was strongly supported by left wing political activists and supporters because they knew it would deliver for them, at least in stopping any further liberalisation of the economy.  It has done so, in spades.  In 1996 it meant National had to embrace Winston Peters and his agenda of halting asset sales, which gave Labour time to reconcile its differences with the left embodied by Jim Anderton, so that in 1999 a thoroughly tired and discredited National and NZ First gave way to a Labour-Alliance coalition, with the Greens scraping through.   This led to three terms of leftwing Labour government, with the Alliance replaced with the Greens to the left of Labour, although Labour preferred to embrace the floating centre which went to NZ First and United Future at different times to fully embracing the Greens and spooking floating voters to National.   In 2008 National could have had a term of free market reformist government with ACT, but knew it needed a wider base over time so embraced the Maori Party.   Now it needs the Maori Party, and is to court the Greens.   National's true home as the natural party of government and being inherently conservative (as in do not much) is where it is.   Labour need only wait until enough voters are seeking change, and have a leader who can sell it, for NZ First and Green voters to "return home", and quite possible wipe out the Maori Party.

For those who embrace centrist politics, the next three years will be a celebration.  It wont be radical, it wont see the size of the state grow or get cut, and taxes wont change overall.  The left's hysteria about partial privatisation will be shown up for what it is when it happens, as nobody will notice much difference.  There was nothing else they could attack National for, as no other policies were much different.

Indeed, the Greens, NZ First and Labour must quietly fear that if National can "get away" with part-privatisation, that the bogey of this issue - whipped up by economic illiteracy, fact absent legends about past privatisations and old fashioned xenophobia - will have been neutered somewhat.

The future of left-wing politics may be seen in whipping up fear of the current economic uncertainty and some class warfare - which can be seen in some blogs (e.g. Tumeke, the Standard) and the rhetoric of the Greens and Mana.  The Greens barely campaigned at all on environmental issues, as the brand Green already delivered that as a presumption.  However, while left-wing activists  are always disappointed that the people they claim to speak about rarely are motivated or interested enough to vote for them, it remains that they have the upper ground when it comes to rhetoric, political discourse and media attention.  Consider the attention Winston Peters (who I consider left-wing as he is Muldoonist left-wing) and Hone Harawira got from the media compared to Colin Craig of the Conservatives, or the attention any ACT slogans or policies got.  

The Gramscian approach to political philosophy, seen in media and inculcated somewhat in the education system, has worked, for the commentators and as default position for many.  The only reason it doesn't deliver a solidly leftwing government is that the "masses" are apathetic, indeed it has almost always been that socialists are disappointed that the people who they claim to be motivated about are themselves people lacking motivation for anything more than instant gratification - which is, in one part, why they are in the circumstances they are in. 

Yet the free market libertarian "right" has little hope at the moment too.  National barely talks the talk on personal responsibility and less government interference in people's lives.  It isn't in its blood, and unless Labour takes a swing to the left, National will see little traction in talking about freedom.   ACT had so much noise around it about Epsom, John Banks and the recording, that it couldn't get off the block on it.  Moreover, the media and most commentators only have a couple of reference points for talking about less government - Rogernomics and the USA.  It is an uphill battle, but despite the hysteria of the far left, this government wont be "selling all our assets", operating for the "interests of bankers and the rich" or seeking to take money from the poor - they only wish it was, for without the legend of the right the left doesn't have a scapegoat or bogeyman to point to, so that voters can trust their vision.

Curiously, Maori voters are now split three ways.  A significant proportion of those in the Maori seats now support a radical separatist and neo-Marxist vision for New Zealand that would divide the country.  The rest support engagement in the current political system.  Mana's 1% seems insignificant, yet the question is what it bodes for the future.

Most New Zealanders wont be too upset about the election.  Those on the left will be disappointed, yet the Greens will still be partying as they will think they are pushing Labour over a bit.  The NZ First faction is small, but it will be thinking they have cocked a snook at the media - when the media delivered for them.  However, the left does have a solid bloc of support of around 45% that it can tap and the fact National plays on the turf of the left in terms of rhetoric, objectives and debate shows that things have not changed that much.

The conservative right will be happy, as Colin Craig has set aside the demons of the Kiwi Party, Family Party, Christian Heritage, Christian Democrats et.al to form a single conservative right wing party of some standing.  Indeed it did better than ACT, Maori and Mana combined in terms of party votes.  Targeting NZ First voters may be fertile ground to help cross the 5% threshold, as will aiming at a single constituency (although Rodney looks promising it may need to be somewhere else).   National may want to quietly encourage this.   

The liberal right of course are not happy.  ACT is finished and most of those who believe in less government ticked the boxes for National.  Hopefully those of a conservative persuasion in ACT will go to their logical new home (as above), and those of us who are libertarian need to sit down and figure out where to go to from here.

It isn't a significant election as it does, as I said before, look like a pattern whereby when the likely result is predictable, the vote for the second party dissipates to the minor parties.  National had this happen, with United Future and ACT doing well in 2002.  Now it is Labour's turn with the Greens and NZ First.   Yet the balance is still fairly slim between the centre-right and centre-left, so you might pardon for not getting too excited.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Round up of NZ electorates, electorate and party votes

Electorates below with my recommendations highlighted, as you can see I didn't get what I wanted by and large :)

Auckland Central - 107 for ACT's David Seymour.  Sad he didn't beat the Conservative candidate, and ACT's vote collapsed in this seat.  Notable that Nikki Kaye's personal vote is better than National's party vote and Green voters couldn't stomach voting for Jacinda Ardern.  Men were all the bottom candidates in Auckland Central.  Greens did almost as well as Labour in the party vote here. NZ First outdid ACT here, who knew?  National solid on party vote though.  Labour will be disappointed here.

Bay of Plenty - Tony Ryall romps in.  I said spoil your ballot or abstain, 843 of you did for electorate votes, beating Mana and United Future.  NZ First came a close third in party vote, 200 behind Labour.  National country through and through and no surprise.

Botany - Incumbent Jami-Lee Ross romps in.  Conservatives third on electorate vote with Paul Young, but not well on party vote. ACT's Lyn Murphy well behind and poor ACT result.  Again NZ First third in party vote, but Nats miles ahead of Labour.  Never really going to be any other way.

Christchurch Central - Dead heat - ACT's Toni Severin denies this seat from the Nats on the night.  National well ahead on party vote.  Labour will wonder what went wrong.  

Christchurch East - Lianne Dalziel is safe here.  ALCP's Michael Britnell scored 208 votes.  Yet National is thousands ahead of Labour on the party vote.  Labour's remaining Christchurch stronghold.

Clutha-Southland - Bill English owns this seat with over two thirds of the vote.  ACT's Don Nicolson in fourth on 748 is miles out.  National's party vote nearly matches this, but Greens have surprisingly strong third place following.  Never really in doubt.

Coromandel - National's Scott Simpson romps in with a big majority, whilst Labour's Hugh Keninmouth has Catherine Delahunty right up against him in 2nd and 3rd respectively.  Jay Fitton ALCP got 400 votes.  National far ahead on party vote too, but NZ First beats the Greens on party vote.  Greens must wonder what they lost since the days Jeanette Fitzsimons had this seat.

Dunedin North - Labour's David Clark is comfortably elected as part of the new intake. Nats 2nd, Metiria Turei a strong third.  ACT's Guy McCallum last on 133.  Labour actually won the party vote here by around 600 votes, with Greens a very strong third.   Labour expected to win here.

Dunedin South - Labour's Clare Curran is safe here, sadly National's Joanne Hayes was nearly 3,900 behind.  Yet National was 1,500 ahead on the party vote, with NZ First a strong fourth.  Labour also expected to hold this.

East Coast - Ann Tolley is comfortable here with a majority of over 4,000, even if the Green votes had gone to Moana Mackey, it wouldn't have been enough.  ACT's John Norvill got only 135 votes.  National has more than double Labour's party vote, while NZ First is not far behind the Greens.  Labour would have hoped to make inroads, but looks fanciful now.

East Coast Bays - Murray McCully has an almost 2-1 lead over all others combined. 836 of you were informal electorate votes.  National's party vote matches that of McCully.  Conservative Party came a strong fifth place here.  National heartland, anyone here remember Gary Knapp?

Epsom - John Banks has this one with enough of a majority you wonder about the fuss in the media, it is clear that Labour and Green voters could have taken it from him had they voted National.  Yet they couldn't bring themselves to do that.  Mad bint Penny Bright has 106 followers!  363 were informal electorate votes.  National's party vote is dominant with almost two-thirds, but the Greens are a close third behind Labour, yet John Banks so uninspired ACT party votes that it was behind New Zealand First in a seat where ACT used to come third.  John Key relieved.  

Hamilton East - National's David Bennett has a 7000+ majority.  ACT's Garry Mallett got 208 votes.  Party vote is National's as well.  Greens a reasonable third.  Labour once would have hoped to win this.  

Hamilton West - National's Tim Macindoe has a 4000 or so majority, with NZ First's Bill Gudgeon (former MP) coming third.  Independent Tim Wikiriwhi got 101 votes, second to last.  National's party vote was well ahead of the others, with Greens and NZ First in close running in 3rd and 4th.  Labour wanted to do well here.  

Helensville - John Key has more than two-thirds of the vote here.  ACT's Nick Kearney got 161 votes. National's party vote was nearly as good as his electorate vote, with Labour, Greens and NZ First very far behind.  Never in doubt.

Hunua - National's Paul Hutchison also grabs about two-thirds of the vote.  ACT's Ian Cummings has a not bad 398 votes, and is 2 places short of being last.  Party vote again is National's, but NZ First is in third place ahead of the Greens.  Also never in doubt.

Hutt South - Trevor Mallard keeps his seat with a good margin of 4000.  ACT's Alex Speirs only gets 157 votes.  Green's Holly Walker a credible third.  Yet again,  National ahead on party vote by nearly 2,000.  Greens a strong third and NZ First a reasonable fourth.   Labour heartland but the Nats hoped to make some inroads. 

Ilam - Gerry Brownlee has a whopping majority of nearly 12,000.   Labour's John Parsons a distant second, even the strong vote for the Green Kennedy Graham would only have halved that gap had Parsons got it.  National's party vote is equally strong, with the Greens in third (yet more electorate than party votes) and  NZ First fourth.  Never really in doubt.

Invercargill - Eric Roy has a nearly 6,000 vote majority here against soporific Soper.  Libertarianz's Shane Pleasance gains a credible 122 votes.  National only gets half of the party vote here, but Labour is well behind as the Greens and NZ First have half Labour's vote again.  Once Labour country, but looks distant now.

Kaikoura - National's Colin King has an over 10,000 majority here, with the Greens in as strong third place on electorate vote. Libertarianz's Ian Hayes gained 115 votes.  National's party vote is equally strong, well ahead of Labour, which has the Greens on a strong third, followed by New Zealand First.  Once was tighter, but again looks distant now.

Mana - Labour's Kris Faafoi managed to hang on fairly comfortably with a majority of around 1,800 over hectoring Hekia Parata.  ALCP's Richard Goode did well to get 277 votes ahead of ACT's Michael Warren on 159.  Yet National won the party vote in what ought to be solid Labour territory with a margin of around 1000 votes.  The Greens are a strong third.  Should be Labour heartland, but isn't anymore. 

Mangere - Sua Sio of Labour has easily nearly three quarters of the vote here with one of Labour's few real heartland seats left.  National's Claudette Hauiti had no chance and no other candidates got over 1000 votes.  A rare seat where Labour won the party vote by a very large margin, but NZ First is third well ahead of the Greens.  For every National party vote here, Labour got five.  Solid Labour heartland.

Manukau East - Labour's Ross Robertson also owns this seat with 3 votes to every 1 cast for all others.  National's Kanwal Bakshi was the only candidate to get over 1,000 (with over 3,000).  ACT's Jono MacFarlane got 218 votes, sadly not beating communist John Minto's 402 votes for Mana.  Minto was beaten by NZ First's Asenati Taylor here who got more than double the vote he did.  Like Mangere, Labour took most of the party vote here, with National getting 1 vote for every 3 of Labour's.  New Zealand First third in party vote with Greens a distant fourth.  Minto's personal vote beat the Mana Party vote which in this low decile electorate was trounced by the Conservative Party and only 60 more than ACT.  Also solid Labour heartland.

Manurewa - Labour's Louisa Wall has done well here with a majority of around 7,000 ahead of National's Cam Calder. ACT's David Peterson got 161 votes.  NZ First candidate John Hall came third.  Labour also won the party vote here, with over double National's vote.  New Zealand First had more than double the Green Party vote here which was markedly poor, being only a few hundred about the Conservatives.  Solidly Labour, once Roger Douglas territory ironically.

Maungakiekie - Peseta Lotu-Iiga of National has a reasonable majority of around 2700 ahead of Labour's awful Carol Beaumont, but she can't blame the Green candidate Tom Land for that, as his votes wouldn't have been enough.  National has done well to lead in the party vote here by around 2000 with the Greens and NZ First in third and fourth respectively.  Once was Mark Gosche's heartland but boundary changes and demographics have taken it off Labour.

Mt Albert - Helen Clark's old seat is David Shearer's through and through with a whopping majority of around 9,000 votes.  Melissa Lee is well behind and shouldn't stand here again.  Steven Boyle of ACT gained 362 votes.  The reason why Lee shouldn't stand?  Party vote for National was only 100 behind Labour in a core Labour seat.  Greens a strong third and NZ First fourth.  Helen Clark made this Labour country, but for how long?

Mt Roskill - Labour Leader Phil Goff has a decent majority here of over 6,000 over National's Jackie Blue.  Green candidate Julie Anne Genter a distant third.  ALCP's Jasmin Hewlett a reasonable 124 beating the United Future candidate.  However, even Phil barely saw Labour win the party vote here with only 800 votes ahead of National.  NZ First came a strong fourth here.  Labour country that is eroding away.

Napier - For a seat that was Labour through and through, National's Chris Tremain has a steady 3,300+ majority now over Stuart Nash.  Greens a distant third and ACT's John Ormond with 144 votes.  National romped in on the party vote here with more than 6,000 ahead of Labour, the Greens third, but with NZ First and Conservative Parties both doing rather well here.  Labour needs to win seats like this to get any chance of government.

Nelson - Nick Smith has a majority of around 6,600 here, which is comfortable but not like that of many of his colleagues. Labour's Maryan Street has no rivals for second place here, with Greens a distant third.  National leads by 6,000 party votes, indicating Nick Smith might have electorate votes from Green Party voters as he does better than National.  Greens are a strong third here, with NZ First fourth.   Actually Labour country, but Smith has made it his.

New Lynn - David Cunliffe manages around half of the vote here, with a majority of 4400 over National's Tim Groser.  Greens a distant third.  Yet it is party vote National here by over 1,000 votes, as the Greens have a strong third place and NZ First fourth.  Cunliffe gets electorate votes from Green and  NZ First supporters it would seem.  More marginal than it looks, but Cunliffe never really threatened.

New Plymouth - National's Jonathan Young has secured a solid 4000 strong majority here over Labour's Andrew Little.  ALCP's Jamie Dombroski gained 392 votes ahead of independent Rusty Kane.  National's party vote was more than double that of Labour, indicating this is a solid National seat now.  Greens a comfortable third, with NZ First the only other notable result.   National country as it once was, Duynhoven was Labour's bullwark here till he was pushed out before.

North Shore - National's Maggie Barry beamed in with a 13,000 plus majority, over Labour's Ben Clark and it's a disgrace that ACT couldn't give Don Brash at a higher profile for the electorate vote to beat the Green candidate Pieter Watson.  Don Brash only gained 1129 votes in fourth place, better than the party vote at only 653 in a seat where ACT has been third.  National took 2 out of 3 party votes, with Labour getting 1 vote for National's four, the Greens third, NZ First fourth and Conservatives fifth.  Yes in a seat that should be ACT heartland, ACT is more than a 100 votes behind the previously unknown Conservative Party.   National heartland.

Northcote - National's Jonathan Coleman has a good 8,500 majority here over Labour's glamour puss Paula Gillon.  Libertarianz candidate Peter Linton gained 60 votes.  National took over half of the party vote here with the Greens a strong third and NZ First fourth.  Almost as National heartland as North Shore.

Northland - National's new drug czar Mike Sabin has a majority of over 10,000 now, with Labour's Lynette Stewart far behind.  Green and Conservative candidates both did rather well.  National took half of the party vote, with nearly 3 votes for every Labour one.  Greens closely followed by NZ First in the party vote, with the Conservative Party getting half of the NZ First party vote.  National heartland as this is where non-Maori Northland votes.

Ohariu - Peter Dunne is still not down and out, with his majority having grown from 1000 to 1600 or so, it appears National voters chose him over local candidate Katrina Shanks.  Labour's Charles Chauvel nearly double the vote of National's Katrina Shanks.  However curiously, if the voters for the Green candidate Gareth Hughes had voted for Chauvel, Dunne would be gone (but if he had Shanks's votes he'd be back if we play that game).  Good friend Sean Fitzpatrick of the Libertarianz gained 96 votes.  Party vote here is National's by a margin of 8,000 over Labour.  Greens getting 4,000 less than Labour.  NZ First did surprisingly well with 1341 party votes.  United Future a distant fifth with 615 party votes narrowly beating the Conservative accent.  Dunne's personal fiefdom, but is historically National territory.

Otaki - National's Nathan Guy has a comfortable 5000 or so votes ahead of Peter Foster of Labour.  Green and NZ First candidates making a small mention. In the party vote it is solidly Nat by over 6000 votes.  NZ First strong here only a few hundred behind the Greens, with the Conservative Party making a good showing too.  ACT's Peter McCaffrey gained 99 electorate votes.  This should be a marginal, but isn't looking it anymore.

Pakuranga - Never any doubt that Maurice Williamson would romp in here with a majority of over 12000.  ACT's Chris Simmons isn't a dent with 743 votes.  Hard to believe this was once a Social Credit seat.  Party vote is National with well over half.  Greens and NZ First vying for third place here behind Labour.  A seat that was once good for ACT collapses to 539 party votes.

Palmerston North - Iain Lees-Galloway the socialist comfortably takes this for Labour with a majority of around 3000 over National's Leonie Hapeta. Yet again National wins the party vote with more than 3,000 over Labour, Greens a distant third and NZ First fourth.  National hoped to pick this up, but does a Maori woman's name sadly put some off?

Papakura - Judith Collins in here with a majority of over 9000.  Curiously obscure ex MP Brent Catchpole came third here with 1589 votes, beating the Green candidate Caroline Conroy.  ACT's John Thompson gained 195 votes.  National has well over half of the party vote here, more than 2 votes for every 1 Labour got.  NZ First a decent third here, 1,000 party votes over the Greens.  Solidly National territory where once Labour managed to do well.

Port Hills - Ruth Dyson wins comfortably here with a majority of nearly 3,000 over National's David Carter, as this seat is partly about Lyttelton.  ACT's Geoff Russell gained 152 votes.  Yet National romps in on the party vote with over 4500 more than Labour.  Very strong Green showing with 5591 party votes.  NZ First a credible f.ourth.  Labour would have hoped to win better here, but it shows the Greens have eaten in heavily into traditional Labour voting territory.

Rangitata - National's Jo Goodhew has over half the vote here with over 6,000 votes ahead of Labour's Julian Blanchard.  ACT's Tom Corbett gained 280 votes.  National rules on the party vote too, being double that of Labour. Greens and NZ First distant third and fourth.  National heartland.

Rangitikei - National's Ian McElvie took this from Simon Power easily with a majority of over 8700.  Greens third but Conservative candidate Ian Robertson achieved a credible fourth.  ACT's Hayden Fitzgerald managed 251 votes.  Again who remembers this was once Social Credit country, it seems 26 do who voted Democrats for Social Credit.  National heartland.

Rimutaka - Labour's Chris Hipkins hangs on comfortably here with a majority of just over 3000.  ACT's Alwyn Courtenay gained 221 votes.  Yet National won on party votes nearly 4000 ahead of Labour, indicating Hipkins wins National voters over (oddly).  Greens third and NZ First fourth.  Should be Labour territory, but is almost marginal.

Rodney - Lockwood Smith's majority effectively handed over most of it to Mark Mitchell of National with just over 11000 as the majority.  However, the majority is not over Labour, but Conservative leader Colin Craig who won a staggering 7569 votes.  Surely a target for Conservatives next time, and perhaps the next Epsom?  Will John Key consider whether a deal might be done here?  Beth Houlbrooke of ACT gained 180 votes.  You can guess the party vote, National gained five times the vote of Labour. However, while Labour got 4639 party votes, it is followed by Greens on 2847, NZ First on 2492 and Conservatives on 2308.   This remains National heartland, but is top contender for the Conservative Party to focus efforts on breaking into Parliament, but it would be hard effort to make up an 11,000 vote gap against an ex. cop!

Rongotai - Annette King is very safe here with a majority of around 8,000 votes.  Think of the old Island Bay seat which was safe Labour merged with Miramar which was typically marginal.  Russel Norman did well to get nearly 6,000 votes here.  ACT's Joel Latimir gained 141 votes.  Still Labour only barely scrapes above National in the party vote, with a gap of just over 160 votes.  The Greens have a huge 7,300 votes and NZ First fourth.  Should be safe Labour, and loyalty to Annette is what keeps it that way for the electorate vote.

Rotorua - Todd McClay has a majority of nearly 6900 over Steve Chadwick, with NZ First candidate Fletcher Tabuteau a strong third.  784 informal electorate votes. Party vote was almost 50% for National, but with Labour well behind and New Zealand First in third with 3123 ahead of the Greens fourth on 2391.  This ought to be a more marginal seat, but Labour needs to stop recycling Steve Chadwick to have a chance here.

Selwyn - Amy Adams has a massive majority of nearly 18000 here take 2 out of 3 votes.  Labour's Jo McLean couldn't even get 1 vote for every 5 of Adams, but the Green candidate Eugenie Sage was on her toes 1700 votes behind.  Party vote solidly National too, almost as good as electorate vote.  Labour gaining 1 for ever 4 cast for National.  Greens a strong 3690 and New Zealand First in third.   National heartland, once Ruth Richardson country.

Tamaki - Simon O'Connor has wrapped this up with a majority of over 16000 again taking 2 out of 3 votes. Independent Stephen Berry gained 139 votes. National's party vote was almost as much, 4x that of Labour, with the Greens getting half that of Labour and New Zealand First half that of the Greens.  Rob Muldoon's former seat with different boundaries, he'd be happy with that result.  Safe National territory.

Taranaki-King Country - National's Shane Ardern with a 14000 vote majority commanding this seat.  Labour's Rick Barker without a show in hell of getting this.  Party vote about as commanding.  National has 4x the Labour vote.  The Greens half that of Labour, but New Zealand First only a couple of hundred behind Greens.  Once an ACT stronghold but now pathetically getting 427 votes.  Solid National country, which was once Jim Bolger's seat in another form.

Taupo - National's Louise Upston carries a 13,000 majority here over Labour, Greens a distant third a few votes behind NZ First ex. MP Edwin Perry.  Roseanne Jollands of ACT gained 168 votes. Well over half of the party vote to National, but NZ First is third here with 350 votes ahead of the Greens.  Conservative Party gets over 1000 here too.  Solidly National.

Tauranga - No real threat to National's Simon Bridges with a majority of around 15,800, but that's a majority over New Zealand First's Brendan Horan who is inheriting Winston voters (some of whom may see NZ First and assume its Winston) and his former viewing enthusiasts. He's more than 100 ahead of Labour's Deborah Mahuta-Coyle.  Greens in fourth with half the Labour vote, and ex. United Future MP Larry Baldcock with 1405.  More than half the party vote to National, but this is Winston country.  NZ First came second with less than 1 vote for every 3 of National.  Labour is a couple of hundred behind.  Greens in fourth with 2000 less than Labour and the Conservatives half that of the Greens.  It ought to be National's but Winston Peters casts a long shadow and still a big influence.

Te Atatu - Labour's Phil Twyford romped in here with a majority of over 4600 against National's Tau Henare.  Others were hardly in the race.  Yet again National won the party vote with over 1000 more than Labour.  New Zealand First third here with 11 votes more than the Greens.  Phil Twyford gets 4000 more votes than his party here, but you'd expect this to be a Labour seat.

Tukituki - Craig Foss is 9000 ahead of Labour here, with a minor showing for Green and Conservative candidates.  Romana Manning of ALCP did well to beat ACT's Robert Burnside with 312 votes over 235.  National gets slightly over half the party vote and Labour with less than half that of National's.  Greens a fairly strong third with around 3000 votes followed by NZ First.  Again safe National country here even though it includes Hastings.

Waikato - National's Lindsay Tisch is in command with nearly 13000 votes ahead of Labour's promising Kate Sutton.  ACT's Robin Boom gained 289 votes.  National had well over half of the party vote, more than 4x that of Labour, but with NZ First only 2000 votes behind.   Greens fourth and Conservatives fifth.   Solid National territory.

Waimakariri - National's Kate Wilkinson barely slips past Labour's Clayton Cosgrove in a seat where the Green candidate had over 1000 votes in third.  National again got more than half of the party vote here, more than twice that of Labour with Greens in third.  This ought to be Labour country, but this is lost and Labour unlikely to get a candidate again like Cosgrove to pick up this missed seat.

Wairarapa - Nearly 6700 majority for National's John Hayes ahead of Labour's Michael Bott with respectable showings for Green and Conservative candidates.  Best Libertarianz candidate result with leader Dr. Richard McGrath getting 621 votes.  Over half of the party vote went National, more than double that of Labour with Greens third followed closely by NZ First.  Should be marginal when things are tighter.

Waitakere - National's Paula Bennett just barely held this with 349 on the night, over Labour's Carmel Sepuloni - so it will be one for the specials.  Yet here is where strategic voting fails, with the Green candidate having 1582 votes.  Sue Bradford came second last with only 266 votes only beating Libertarianz candidate Peter Osborne on 48. National led on the party vote but only 1300 ahead of Labour. Greens 2796 and NZ First fourth on 1811.  Labour should have had this in the bag, but no.

Waitaki - Jacqui Dean has two thirds of the electorate vote ahead of Labour's Barry Monks. Colin Nicholls of ACT got 182 votes.   National commands on the party vote with a clear majority and over 2.5 x of the vote. Greens with 4000 or so. Should be solid National country.

Wellington Central - Labour's Grant Robertson has this seat comfortably with a majority of over 5000 over National's Paul Foster-Bell.  Green James Shaw had 3821 a drop since Sue Kedgley retired.  Libertarianz candidate Reagan Cutting gained 53 votes.  Yet National was well ahead on party vote, 50% more than Labour, but the Greens are 12 votes behind Labour.  Will the Greens beat Labour here after specials?  NZ First a distant fourth, but remember when ACT held this seat?  This should be a National seat in the current environment, but National needs a better candidate here.  

West Coast-Tasman - Labour's Damien O'Connor provides a rare win for Labour with a credible majority of over 2200.  Steven Wilkinson of ALCP got 395 votes.  Yet this is also party vote National territory with nearly 6000 votes more than Labour. Greens a credible 4000 or so.  This ought to be heartland Labour, it's a sign of how out of touch with provincial NZ Labour is.

Whanganui - Chester Borrows has a reasonable majority of around 4800 over Labour, which seems a distant second.  Alan Davidson of ACT gained 141 votes.  National leads with party vote, 6000 ahead of Labour. NZ First is third here with 2879 a couple of hundred ahead of the Greens.  This ought to be one of the closer races, but needs a fair effort for Labour to make inroads.

Whangarei - Phil Heatley has an over 11600 majority here in John Banks's old seat (in a way), Greens a distant third.  Libertarianz candidate Helen Hughes gained 93 votes.  Just over half the party vote went to National, with nearly 10,000 votes ahead of Labour, which itself has nearly double the vote of the Greens. NZ First being just behind the Greens.   Should be a National stronghold.

Wigram - Labour's Megan Wood takes Jim Anderton's old seat with a modest 1500 vote majority over National's Sam Collins.  Alliance's Kevin Campbell has the best result for the bottom ranked party coming fourth, probably because Jim Anderton has some lost followers.  Geoff McTague of ALCP gained 269 votes.  Yet National led here in party vote too, 4000 votes ahead of Labour, with Greens a distant third.  Ought to be fairly safe Labour, still some work to be done for that.

Hauraki- Waikato - Princess Mahuta safe as can be here with over 5300 votes, but it was Mana's Angeline Greensill who she beat, with Labour's candidate 800 behind her.  Yet while Labour won the party vote here, the parties that are 2nd to 6th are within a range of 600 votes in the following order.  Maori, Mana, NZ First, Green and National.  Obviously Labour's safe territory, but the Greens have broken in on party vote here, something they never managed to do.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti - Parekura Horomia  is safe here with a majority of over 5900 over the Maori Party candidate.  Again Labour commands the party vote, with 5500 over the Maori Party, Mana 3rd with 900 less than the Maori Party and the Greens almost as much as Mana.  Again safe Labour territory.

Tamaki-Makaurau - Pita Sharples just scraped in here with a majority of over 700 over Shane Jones.  Labour led the party vote, with the Maori Party with half that of Labour, yet Mana is only 170 or so votes behind.  NZ First in fourth.   Maori Party loyalty based on Sharples, but this is still Labour's seat in the long run.

Te Tai Hauauru - Tariana Turia  is safe here with a majority of 2760 over Labour's Soraya Peke Mason.  Labour well ahead on party vote, with Maori Party on half the vote of Labour and the Greens curiously third.  Again this vote is about Tariana, but the Greens will be very pleased to have come third here.

Te Tai Tokerau - Hone Harawira slipped in with a majority of 874 over Labour's Kelvin Davis.  However while Labour led the party vote, Mana came a strong second only 1700 votes behind with Maori Party a distant third.  Hone's territory for now, but not insurmountable.

Te Tai Tonga - Labour's Rino Tirikatene beaten Maori Party's Rahui Katene with a comfortable 1445 votes.  Labour led in party vote, but the Greens came second with half of the Labour vote, and National in third.  Maori Party and Mana both behind National.  Not like the other Maori seats at all, are Maori and Mana too North Island?

Waiariki - Maori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell comfortably beat Annette Sykes by 1820, with Labour a distant third with Louis Te Kani.  Labour led the party vote, but Maori second with 2200 less, closely followed by Mana.  Definitely not a Labour stronghold anymore.

Libz overall party votes

Top results Wairarapa and Ohariu, well done Richard McGrath Leader and Sean Fitzpatrick Deputy Leader.  To be the biggest psephological nerd in the country look below.  Don't laugh

Auckland Central - 23 ahead of Alliance and Socred, but down on 27 in 2008
Bay of Plenty - 23 ahead of Alliance and Socred, but down on 25 in 2008
Botany - 13 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 10 in 2008
Christchurch Central - 18 ahead of Socred, down from 21 in 2008
Christchurch East -  16, up from 14 in 2008
Clutha-Southland - 23 ahead of Alliance, up from 16 in 2008
Coromandel - 18 ahead of Alliance, up from 13 in 2008
Dunedin North - 18, up from 9 in 2008
Dunedin South - 14, down from 15 in 2008
East Coast - 9 ahead of Alliance, down from 13 in 2008
East Coast Bays - 21 ahead of Alliance and Socred, down from 25 in 2008
Epsom - 29 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 19 in 2008
Hamilton East - 22 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 21 in 2008
Hamilton West - 26 ahead of Alliance, down from 31 in 2008
Helensville - 16 ahead of Alliance and Socred, down from 21 in 2008
Hunua - 23 ahead of Alliance, up from 10 in 2008
Hutt South - 19 ahead of Socred, down from 36 in 2008
Ilam - 26 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 21 in 2008
Invercargill - 32 ahead of Alliance, up from 21 in 2008
Kaikoura - 22 ahead of Alliance, up from 6 in 2008
Mana - 17 ahead of Alliance and Socred, same as 2008
Mangere - 3 ahead of Socred, down from 6 in 2008
Manukau East - 7, up from 6 in 2008
Manurewa - 13 ahead of Socred, up from 7 in 2008
Maungakiekie - 24 ahead of Socred and Alliance, down from 30 in 2008
Mt Albert - 23 ahead of Socred and Alliance, up from 16 in 2008
Mt Roskill - 11 ahead of Socred and Alliance, up from 8 in 2008
Napier - 14 ahead of Socred, same as 2008
Nelson - 17 ahead of Alliance, up from 12 in 2008
New Lynn - 21 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 14 in 2008
New Plymouth - 29 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 27 in 2008
North Shore - 31 ahead of Alliance and Socred, down from 33 in 2008
Northcote - 32 ahead of Alliance and Socred, down from 37 in 2008
Northland - 23 ahead of Alliance, down from 25 in 2008
Ohariu - 45 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 20 in 2008
Otaki - 17 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 12 in 2008
Pakuranga - 8 ahead of Socred, down from 13 in 2008
Palmerston North - 17 ahead of Socred, up from 16 in 2008
Papakura - 21 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 8 in 2008
Port Hills - 16, down from 17 in 2008
Rangitata - 19 ahead of Socred, up from 8 in 2008
Rangitikei - 19 ahead of Alliance, down from 22 in 2008
Rimutaka - 22 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 13 in 2008
Rodney - 14 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 11 in 2008
Rongotai - 26 ahead of Alliance and Socred, down from 34 in 2008
Rotorua - 16 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 15 in 2008
Selwyn - 9, up from 8 in 2008
Tamaki - 22 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 20 in 2008
Taranaki- King Country- 19, up from 16 in 2008
Taupo - 20 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 13 in 2008
Tauranga - 17 ahead of Alliance, down from 21 in 2008
Te Atatu - 12, up from 8 in 2008
Tukituki - 18 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 10 in 2008
Waikato - 26 ahead of Alliance, up from 15 in 2008
Waimakariri - 11, up from 7 in 2008
Wairarapa - 85 ahead of Alliance, Socred and Mana, up from 61 in 2008
Waitakere - 27 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 14 in 2008
Waitaki - 25 ahead of Alliance, up from 15 in 2008
Wellington Central - 31 ahead of Alliance and Socred, down from 48 in 2008
West Coast-Tasman - 25 ahead of Alliance, up from 20 in 2008
Whanganui - 21 ahead of Alliance, up from 18 in 2008
Whangarei - 30 ahead of Alliance, up from 18 in 2008
Wigram - 31 ahead of Socred, up from 22 in 2008
Hauraki-Waikato - 22 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 7 in 2008
Ikaroa-Rawhiti - 8 ahead of Alliance and Socred, up from 4 in 2008
Tamaki-Makaurau - 3 ahead of Alliance, up from 2 in 2008
Te Tai Hauauru - 3 ahead of Alliance, up from 1 in 2008
Te Tai Tokerau - 14 ahead of Alliance, Socred and United Future, up from 5 in 2008
Te Tai Tonga - 3, down from 4 in 2008
Waiariki - 2 ahead of Socred, down from 4 in 2008