Quin on whether Labour is on the path to victory


“We’re finishing an excellent year in which the polls and popular feeling on the streets tells us that we are on course to victory in 2017” – Nigel Haworth, 23/12/2015

There’s an important epistemological distinction – perhaps more accurately a chasm – between bullshit and lies.

Quin sees this claim as bullshit.

But, even if we take the averages as a fair representation of voter intention:

  • The polling average shows plus the Greens behind the National Party by nine points.   
  • Even with NZF included in the so-called Centre-left bloc, they fall short by three points.   
  • The notion that an incumbent government on anything like 49.6% can be forced from office is risible. In fact, I cannot find a single example of a government in the mid-high forties in any jurisdiction with proportional representation who have lost.  It’s mathematically possible, sure, but implausible in practice – and National has hardly dipped below 45 percent during their whole tenure. 

So the notion that Labour is “on track to victory” bears no relationship to the truth. It is – and I mean this in the strict, technical sense – flagrant bullshit. Given this, why does Haworth say it?  

Why indeed?

  • Well, it feels good for him to say it.
  • Party members and supporters to whom he is communicating love to think it is true.   
  • Telling the truth – to say out loud that there is no evidence whatsoever that Labour is any more likely to win an election today than it was at its previous historic drubbing – is unpleasant for all concerned.  
  • The broader media/political class, jonesing for a genuine contest in 2017, willingly suspend disbelief and therefore don’t question Haworth’s bullshit, allowing him to get away with it. 

National’s lead over Labour and Greens is currently 9.8%. In December 2012 it was 1.2%. So the left is doing worse at this point of the electoral cycle than they were three years ago when David Shearer was Labour Leader.

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