Bennett v Rankin

December 15th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Colin Espiner reports:

The Conservative Party is poised to stand its high-profile chief executive Christine Rankin against National’s Paula Bennett in Upper Harbour, setting up a potential battle of the former solo mums next election.

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times that the party’s board had formally asked the controversial former boss of Work and Income New Zealand to stand in next year’s general election. …

Bennett and Rankin have similar back stories; both grew up in households without much money, had children at a young age and raised them alone on the domestic purposes benefit. Both ended up in charge of their former paymaster; Rankin as chief executive of Work and Income New Zealand and Bennett as Minister of Social Development.

It will be an interesting contest. I suspect both women will agree on a lot of stuff around welfare reforms but perhaps disagree in other areas.

Polling had indicated Rankin would do well in the proposed electorate that would wrap around the north and west of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. …

Independent polling by Research Solutions for the Conservatives obtained by the Star-Times shows Rankin has 24 per cent support in Upper Harbour, with 20 per cent opting for “another candidate” and a large 56 per cent undecided.

I’ve blogged on this before, but a poll which names only one candidate has little value in predicting the outcome of an election. A poll should either be totally unprompted (Which candidate or party’s candidate would you vote for) or totally prompted (Which of the following candidates would you vote for). A poll which just asks “Would you vote for Candidate A or some other candidate” has relatively little value.

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Colin Craig needs to stick to the real issues

November 29th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by Jadis

I’ll put it upfront that I am unlikely ever to be a Conservatives voter.  I am far too right wing economically and am a social liberal (most of the time).  However I will take it upon myself to assist the wider public and ask Colin Craig to please get some discipline.  The man who fronted so much of the pro-smacking brigade has a real problem with discipline himself.

The latest is an interview this morning with Sean Plunket Sean asks a simple question about Chem Trails and Colin gives a pretty poor answer:

“I don’t know and when I don’t know I am quite happy to say I don’t know – and apparently this is not the standard Party line that you are expected to know an have a definite view on this.

“I feel it is very honest to say I don’t.”

I don’t have a huge issue with this response.  When he was leader of the Nats Don Brash was well known for saying he wasn’t sure on an issue and that he would get back to a journalist.

The difficulty is Colin then answered Sean’s question about the Twin Towers and said

“it may be more possible (that terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers instead of a government conspiracy)”.

Interesting that he entertains the possibility of a US government conspiracy to kill thousands of Americans.

Colin then goes on to say:

“the real issue if we are talking Monsanto and other very large food corporates is that there is a real issue about food supply, about food labelling about renewable resources about food. I have some concerns about bioengineering, modification of food – I’m not absolutely opposed to it but I think it is a risky track to go down.”  I do not think our food industry should be controlled by one or two big players.”

My issue with Colin is this.  Stop talking about this fluff.  Start talking about the real Conservatives policies, learn to move a question away from the sensational to the sensible.  Please, please start looking credible.  There is a range of issues and policies that Colin should and could be talking about. Here, Colin, I will help out – try this link to the Conservative Party’s web page

And please don’t get all snippy and think Liberals (even fiscal conservatives and social libs like me) are picking on you.  We’re not… you have created all of this all by yourself.  You actually have some important stories to tell and issues to highlight but you keep missing them because, like a magpie, you keep going for the flashy stuff.

Ignore the silly fluff and focus!  You should be challenging Winston.  Instead Winston is biding his time and has no need to comment at all because you are creating vacuums and filling them with stuff that is so, so unnecessary.  When was the last time you even touched an issue that crosses over Winston’s territory?  You simply haven’t because you are asleep at the wheel.

A friend overheard an interesting comment from a neighbouring table in a café the other day “If there’s ever a time to make me vote National, it’s Colin Craig. We need to make sure Nats get 50%”

That sort of comment above  is being said not because the electorate cant take you seriously but because you don’t take yourself seriously.  Time to look like a leader and focus on the real issues, Colin.


* this post is written by Jadis so please don’t lynch poor DPF



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Colin Craig’s strategy revealed

November 28th, 2013 at 7:00 am by Jadis

I was a bit perplexed as to why Colin Craig continues to come out with support for what seems like rather extreme views.  Yes, he is a minority party leader however drip feeding his views on how wonderful Sarah Palin is, that man-made climate change doesn’t exist and now that Chemtrails could exist takes him to a whole new level.  So what is his strategy behind it?  There must be some science and reasoning as to why Colin Craig would be willing to make such public statements – and it isn’t just because he wants Ken Ring as a List candidate for the Conservatives.

I can reveal that a piece of research conducted by UMR Research in 2011 is the likely source of Colin Craig’s vote chasing and strategic planning

UMR polled 1000 New Zealanders and found the following:

  1. 61% of respondents believe there is a God or universal spirit
  2. 55% of respondents believed some people had psychic powers
  3. 33% of respondents believed aliens had visited the earth
  4. 24% of respondents believed that astrology can predict a person’s future

Colin has the first point covered.  We know that he has expressed his own belief in God, his chief executive is apparently a Buddhist and the Conservatives list from last election is peppered with committed and open Christian politicians.  61% of the population suggests to Craig that the Conservatives have an extensive pool to reach into to get to the magical 5% threshold.  That 61% starts to get really interesting when we use math in only a way Craig would know how and add 1, 2, 3 and 4 to each other – that is a potential pool of voters of 173% of New Zealanders.  Colin is on to a winner.

In all seriousness though, Colin Craig and the Conservatives have a huge opportunity.  Espousing these sorts of fringe views means that the serious positioning of the Conservatives goes to waste.  There is a real space for the Conservatives as the Muldoonists of the future and social conservatives.  As a fiscal conservative and social liberal they aren’t my people but there are a swag of voters that Craig should be reaching out to.  Those voters are in the provinces, in the cities, in Grey Power and on school boards BUT do they really want to be associated with a man who can’t shut his trap on such things as Chemtrails?  Time for Colin Craig to get some discipline.


* This post is written by Jadis – so don’t freak out that DPF would be so mean!

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Young on boundaries

October 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes in NZ Herald:

The electoral gods could well be shining on Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

One of the two biggest areas of growth in Auckland has been in his own backyard on the North Shore and that means a new electorate seat could be created virtually around him.

If National stood a low-profile candidate rather than a heavyweight like List MP Steven Joyce, and Prime Minister John Key gave voters a steer in the right directions, Craig could be well-placed to take a new seat.

That would provide National with a new potential support partner to replace or supplement the ones that have been self-destructing since the last election: Act whose leader John Banks resigned as a minister last week, United Future whose leader Peter Dunne was forced to resign in June, and the Maori Party.

As I have said before National have five potential support partners – ACT,, United Future, Maori Party, Conservatives and NZ First. What we don’t know is how many of them will make it, how many can actually work with National, and how many will National need to be in the running to form a third term Government.

Key this week dismissed New Zealand First leader Winston Peters as someone who talked in more riddles than the Mad Hatter. Hardly the behaviour of a Prime Minister who expects to be propped up by Peters after next year’s election.

Key called it straight. It is far from certain that National will change its stance on NZ First. I’m not saying they won’t change – just that it is dangerous to make that assumption at this stage. I expect a decision would be made around the middle of 2014.

There will definitely be one new electorate created in Auckland after the census figures were announced last month and Craig told the Herald yesterday that he would most likely stand in the seat if it is in his patch – he lives on the border of East Coast Bays and Rodney.

“It would be very, very nice for us. We know it’s a good area for us. It would be very nice if the seat ended up here,” he said.

“If it works out that they go for the electorate that has grown the largest, which is Upper Harbour, and put a new electorate in there, I’m going to be living in it so it’s going to be all very convenient.”

If the Conservatives are polling enough to get four or more MPs, then centre-right voters in a new seat could well vote tactically.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, too, is known to be considering standing in an Auckland seat – and the new seat would have to be a possibility or a vacancy if Murray McCully were to shift to the list from East Coast Bays – a repeated rumour.

When asked to comment on the Conservatives and the new seat Peters said: “Elephants don’t run round the forest stomping on ants.”

Peters was too chicken to stand in a seat in 2011, so I don’t expect he will risk failure.

National pollster and Kiwiblog commentator David Farrar says things are looking good for the Conservatives.

“Even before you get into any political deals, the way the census has happened, actually, is very happy for the Conservatives, assuming that’s where the new seat is.”

Farrar also believes there is no need for the “cup of tea” photo opportunity to send signals to voters.

“Generally voters, if they want a centre-right or centre-left Government, can work out what’s the smart thing to do. So if there was a seat and Colin Craig was standing for it and they are polling 3 per cent in the polls and the candidate for National is a worthy but low-profile person, you could well see Conservatives do very well there without needing any sort of arrangement.”

Centre-right voters tend to be pretty intelligent. They don’t want a Government that will tax and spend, borrow more, nationalise companies etc. They will vote for minor party candidates if that helps stop a Labour/Green/Mana Government.

Farrar believes that if Banks lost his judicial review against going to trial and then lost the trial as well, he would not only be kicked out of Parliament as required under the law, it would finally destroy Act as well.

“I think the brand would be too damaged.”

A party can not survive its leader and sole MP losing his seat due to a conviction over electoral matters. Note I am not saying I think Banks will lose. Andrew Geddis has a very useful blog post on this issue which is worth reading. The key para for me:

I can’t for the life of me see why Banks would have sat down and thought something along the lines of “Dotcom and Sky City have given me all this money, but I don’t want anyone to know that they did and so I’ll deliberately lie about where it came from in my return even though I know that it is completely illegal to do so.” He was, after all, the losing candidate  in the mayoral race. Why would anyone have cared who gave him money, and why would he feel the need to make a decision to hide its source after the campaign was over? So any sort of claim that Banks deliberately or maliciously sought to evade the requirements of the Local Electoral Act strikes me as deeply implausible.

This is key – Banks had lost. There was little, if any gain, in not declaring the donations.


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Where to for ACT

October 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Does ACT have a future after its leader was committed to trial over his 2010 Mayoral election return?

Well firstly it depends on the outcome of the court case. If he loses, and is convicted, then his seat in Parliament is automatically vacated. That means a by-election in Epsom, and unless ACT stood an incredibly popular candidate (such as Cameron Brewer) then they would not win the by-election and be out of Parliament. I think that would be the end of the party, which would dissolve. That may create an opportunity for a new party in time, but probably not until 2017 at the earliest.

The fact the Solictor-General is looking at taking over the prosecution is somewhat ominous.

If Banks wins, then he remains in Parliament, and becomes a Minister again. However that does not mean plain sailing.

Banks defence is basically that he signed a legal declaration of his election expenses and donations, but didn’t read it. That may mean he legally didn’t willfully break the law, but it’s an awful look.  If his non-reading had occurred as a parliamentary candidate, that would be fatal. He is slightly saved by the fact that when he signed the return he though his political career was over. But regardless of timing, it looks bad. As I said previously, it is bad to be personally involved in receiving two donations and then sign a return saying he doesn’t know who his donors were. It may be legal (as Len’s trusts were), but is the public concerned just about legality?

Even if Banks wins, it is hard to see him winning Epsom again. Having said that ACT have won it three elections in a row, when almost no one thought they would or could.

If there is a by-election, then I would expect National to win it easily. Epsom voters are not going to vote for giving the Maori Party the balance of power or worse a Labour-Greens Government. Paul Goldsmith would become the MP for Epsom and Jo Hayes would become a List MP.

So I don’t see big issues for the Government before the general election, except for a possible distracting by-election campaign.

The bigger challenge is the next general election. National has five potential coalition partners, and none of them are ideal – and probably more than one of them will be needed. The five potential partners are:

  1. ACT – very reliable in a voting sense and pushes National into areas most of its supporters want. But not likely to be back.
  2. United Future – also a reliable and stable partner, even though more inclined to vote independently on non-core issues. But will Dunne stand again, and would he win?
  3. Maori Party. They will be back with at least one seat, probably two. A third is possible – a list seat if they get over 2% party vote. However they have never had to choose between a National and Labour led Government. They could well choose to go with Labour. And if they do choose National, their policy demands could be unpopular.
  4. Conservatives. It is hard to see them making 5% but they could well make 2.8% and get four seats if they win an electorate. If a new Auckland seat is in an area where they have some strong support, then the lak of an incumbent National MP could see centre-right tactical voting to get them in. The downside is that if this looks likely it might scare some socially liberal voters to Labour. Against that, most of the core issues for the Conservatives are conscience issues and not something likely to be part of any coalition agreement (except maybe to agree to no further law changes in certain areas). I can’t see any possibility of repealing same sex marriage, prostitution, abortion laws etc. Maybe the anti-smacking law could go as a policy victory for them?
  5. NZ First. Winston hates John Key and wants utu on him, The jury is out on whether the bigger utu is to sack John Key or make him subservient to him. Either option is rather unpleasant to contemplate. But you can’t rule out a deal if a National-NZ First majority is possible and a centre-left Government is only possible if the Greens are part of it.

So National does have options if ACT goes, but they are not great options. But politics is the art of the possible!

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That poll which shows Colin Craig ahead in Rodney, revealed

November 8th, 2011 at 9:20 am by David Farrar

Colin Craig’s Conservative Party has been claiming they will win Rodney, on the basis of this poll report, which is on their website. The key extract is:

47.2% of those who had decided who they were likely to vote for as an electorate candidate would vote for Craig.

This would position Craig in first place in the electorate, ahead of ‘The National Party Candidate/Mark Mitchell/Lockwood Smith (36.3%).

The polling was done by Research First. Whale recently revealed their director is a candidate for the Conservative Party. I commented at the time:

This does not mean that the poll results are or are not valid. As I said, validity is based on knowing the question asked and the methodology. You can poll for an organisation you are involved with. For example, Curia does an annual poll for the Republican Movement on whether people want NZ to become a republic when the Queen dies. Now I am on the Council of the Movement, but this doesn’t influence the results. The key thing is I have publicly disclosed my involvement.

Now in response to a request from Whale, Research First have released details of the questions they asked. It is good they have done so, because as I said the exact questions asked are often vital to interpreting a poll’s results. Their response says:

 Relevant questions included the following, in order of being asked:

1 For your party vote, have you decided who you will be voting for in the election?

2 Which party do you currently intend to vote for?

3 Have you heard of the Conservative Party?

4 Have you heard of Colin Craig?

Participants were read a brief preamble to provide context: ‘Colin Craig is the leader of the Conservative Party of New Zealand. In the Auckland mayoral election, Colin came third with over 40,000 votes’. Then asked…

5 If Colin were to stand in as a candidate in your electorate, what would be the likelihood that you would vote for Colin to be your member of parliament (on a scale of 1 = definitely; 2 = likely; 3 = neutral; 4 = unlikely and 5 = very unlikely)?

Those who identified they were neutral or unlikely to vote for Craig were asked:

6 Who do you intend to vote for?

Okay, let’s take this step by step. The first two questions are pretty standard. Then there are two specific question asking awareness of the Conservative Party and Colin Craig. Then a statement was read out which puts Craig in a positive light (mentioning his votes in the Auckland Mayoral election), and then they ask people how likely it is they will vote for Craig, and only if they say they are neutral or unlikely to they even ask you who else you will vote for.

The results are no surprise, once you realise this is the questions that were asked, and in what order. You have a number of factors here influencing the responses, namely:

  • The mention of the Conservative Party and Colin Craig first
  • The description of Colin Craig provided to respondents
  • The question only asked about voting for Colin Craig, with no mention of anyone else
  • Only if you say you are neutral or unlikely to vote Craig, do you even get asked whom else you might vote for
  • The other candidates are unprompted, so you are comparing unprompted results vs a prompted result.

I am surprised that Research First did not insist on these questions being included in their report, as in my opinion they are quite vital to it. I also think it is unwise to compare answers to a prompted question to answers to an unprompted question.

If I was wanting to poll that seat, and get a result which was fairly trying to ascertain support, the questions I would use are either:

Which candidate, or party’s candidate are you likely to vote for with your electorate vote?


The candidates for Rodney are Colin Craig, Conservative; Beth Houlbrooke, ACT; tracey Martin, New Zealand First; Mark Mitchell, National; Terea Moore, Green and Christine Rose, Labour. Which candidate are you likely to vote for with your electorate vote?

One might also have a follow up lean question for those undecided. I very strongly suspect that the results to the questions above would be vastly different to the results of the poll commissioned by the Conservative Party.

There is never any 100% correct version of a question, and rarely 100% incorrect version. In terms of ascertaining potential support for Colin Craig, those questions may be legitimate if commissioned for internal use only. But what I think was wrong was to have them publicly reported as Craig being “in first place”. The questions should have been reported.

The lesson for media here, is to always ask for the questions. Those media who reported the poll, should be wary of doing so in future without checking.

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Conservatives now registered

October 9th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission has announced that the Conservative Party is now registered and able to contest the election.

There are now 16 registered parties being:

  • ACT
  • ALCP
  • Progressive
  • Conservative
  • Libertarianz
  • Mana
  • Maori
  • New Citizen
  • Winston First
  • Labour
  • Alliance
  • Greens
  • Kiwi
  • Democrats/Social Credit
  • National
  • United

I suspect Progressive and Kiwi will not actually contest the election and urge people to vote Labour and Conservative respectively.


A sensible decision

September 19th, 2011 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Steve Hopkins at Stuff reports:

The leader of the Conservative Party, Colin Craig, has confirmed he will stand as the Rodney electorate candidate.

The announcement today ends speculation he would stand against John Banks in Auckland’s Epsom.

Craig says he was attracted to the challenge of taking on Banks, his former mayoral campaign rival, but he’s ”followed his heart by standing for the people” of Rodney.

”I’ve lived in Rodney and my business involvement here has spanned more than 20 years. Many of my family live here and I’m passionate about getting things moving for everyone in the region,” he says.

Craig’s father Ross Craig was a Rodney district councillor until the Auckland super city council was formed last year.

This is a much more sensible decision, than standing in Epsom would have been. Standing in Epsom would only have benefited Labour.

Craig appears to be seeking the same sort of voters as NZ First – socially conservative, and economically centrist. If NZ First does not make it back in, then in 2014 Craig has the possibility of picking up many of his voters. In 2011, it will be harder.

The Conservative Party claims polling in the area shows Craig is ahead of his nearest rival.

Meanwhile, further polling by the party claims to show Banks is struggling to win over Epsom voters.

Of those who had decided who they were likely to vote for as an electoral candidate in Epsom, 35.3 per cent say they would vote for the National candidate, 31.4 per cent would tick Banks, and 27.4 per cent say they would give their vote Craig if he was on the ballot paper.

So the Conservative Party claims it is ahead in Rodney? I’d love to see the name of the polling company they use for these polls, and what he exact questions were.

UPDATE: Act on Campus point out Craig was polling against the retiring MP, not the actual National candidate. He must literally have money to waste.

Personally I’m even more doubtful of a poll that says Craig would beat Lockwood if he was standing again.

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UK Labour routed at by-election

May 25th, 2008 at 1:49 pm by David Farrar

A couple of days old now, but have to mention the by-election for Crewe and Nantwich (don’t you love English place names).

In 2005 Labour won the seat by over 7,000 votes – 49% to 32%.

In the by-election, the Conservatives won by almost 8,000 votes – 49.5% to 30.5%. So that is a 17% swing to the Conservatives. In 1997 Labour won it by 31% – 58% to 27%.

The highlight for me was the candidate for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, a Mr “The Flying Brick” – and yes that is his legal name. He is their Shadow Minister for the Abolition of Gravity.

In nationwide polls, the Conservatives are 14% ahead of Labour, which would give them a 76 seat majority.

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UK Labour thrashed in local elections

May 3rd, 2008 at 9:25 am by David Farrar

The results are yet to be announced for the London Mayoralty (Zimbabwe is almost faster with its results) but the expectation is that Boris Johnson has won it off Ken Livingstone, as Labour have been mauled across the board.

Pundits said a loss of more than 200 seats would be very bad for Labour. Well they have lost a staggering 331 seats – a once in a generation annihilation. In fact Labour only came third in the popular vote with 24% behind Lib Dems on 25% and Conservatives on 44%.

It is now being openly speculated that Prime Minister Gordon Brown may be rolled before the election. He is lucky in that there is no general election needed for two years, but unlucky in that that gives lots of time for discontent to simmer.

Congrats to all my friends in the Conservatives – must have been a good night of celebrations.

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