Quin on whether Labour is on the path to victory

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“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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