Thursday 3 November: Labour under pressure over spending

by Toby Manhire / 03 November, 2011
Under-pressure Labour promise costings tomorrow, and challenge National over jobs.
8.10pm: Not much to trouble the scorers in the news slots tonight - in fact nothing at all on the 7pm shows. Following its poll revelation, One News covered the day in "show me the money", with a sprinkle of "show me the jobs". Down the bulletin they covered the National high-tech initiative (see 1.10pm).

"Show me the money" led 3 News, followed by a separate item for "show me the jobs", examining the unemployment figures (see 12.05pm). Their other election item focused on the Maori party call for a Parkihaka/Peace day, to replace Guy Fawkes and Halloween ("not our kaupapa," said Tariana Turia, alarming thousands of sugar and gunpowder loving children across the nation.)

The Maori party release is here.

If you're new to this blog, I should explain that you start at the end (here, that is), and scroll upwards. It should then make at least a little more sense.

Goodnight, sweet spreadsheet dreams.

6.05pm: POLL

National are steady on 56% in a new poll by Colmar Brunton for One News. Labour are up a smidgen to 30% but it's a disappointing result for them in a poll conducted between Saturday and Wednesday.

The numbers:

National 56%, Labour 30%, Greens 9%, NZ First 2.2%, Maori 1.3%, ACT 0.9%, Mana 0.3%.

That would give National 69 parliamentary seats - currently they have 58 - and the ability to govern alone.

It's miserable news for ACT, again. As Guyon Espiner observes, they are "facing oblivion" - there's little chance National would go the distance for John Banks and openly endorse him Epsom with them polling so disastrously.

5.45pm: I promised a report from last night’s Back Benches. I’ll keep it quick.

A good show. Raucous, sometimes too raucous, but a terrific format, ably navigated. If TVNZ 7 does go to its grave, let’s hope Back Benches reappears somewhere else.

It was an Auckland Central debate (you can watch it here), at the Britomart Country Club, with a line-up of David Seymour (ACT), Nikki Kaye (National), Jacinda Ardern (Labour) and the Denise Roche (Greens).

Ardern was the crowd favourite – but there weren’t many undecideds about. She made the most of her support, though, ramming home Labour’s support for the Len Line, aka the inner-city rail loop, and pointing up National’s predilection for roads over tracks.

Roche was strong, though her equivocation over whether punters should vote for her or Ardern was a problem. Seymour was impressive, too. Hell, they were all good.

In the audience, there were lots of small men holding up big placards. I found myself standing next to one of them: a little ACT chap with a fierce stare. He did nothing to win the love of the people around him by defying the pre-debate instructions and holding his sign aloft through the talky bits. At one point he smoked a cigarette (the BCC says it’s outside, snigger), which was a bit yuck given the proximity.

At one point a pal of his wearing one of those “I’m a Key Person” T-shirts wandered along to say hello (to him, not me). Scanning the crowd as it jeered Kaye, she whispered at him: “I know! They’re everywhere!”

Best of all, though, was the sight of Winston Peters in the crowd. Neither he nor anyone from NZ First had been allowed to take part, but, no matter, he was grinning ear to ear – his smile broadening the rowdier it got. It was as if he’d died and gone to bar-brawl-politics heaven.

5.15pm: David Cunliffe is being hauled over the coals by Mary Wilson on Checkpoint. He says it is "entirely normal" for a leader to debate on the broad numbers, without "burrowing down into detail". Cunliffe says that the reason he hasn't released all the figures yet is because there will be a "full-court-press release with all the bells and whistles tomorrow", and because there was much checking and rechecking to do.

Labour's finance spokesman assures us his lot would run a "tight fiscal ship".

Which invites the obvious question: what is it with all the nautical imagery this campaign?

4.20pm: Wikipedia has a snazzy poll aggregator (via @danylmc)

4.05pm: NZ On Screen has this afternoon launched its Politics Collection, bringing together oodles of clips from its archive of New Zealand television. I've written an introductory piece for the collection. Given all the discussion this week about candidate debates, the 1984 encounter between Muldoon and Lange, chaired by Ian Johnstone, is worth a look. It's just the three of them, sitting around a table. This is the one that ends with Muldoon's croaky "I love you, Mr Lange."

2.50pm: John Banks - or "Banksie" as the ACT man calls himself to his pals on Facebook - has appealed to Epsonians for their support saying "A vote for me is your MMP insurance".

Presumably the people of Epsom like the sound of insurance, but given everything I'm not certain it's the ideal brand association.

In any case, ACT needs all the help it can get. In the poll just mentioned, they've sunk under 1%, below the Conservatives.

2.20pm: POLL

The polls are coming thick and fast now.

Labour's support has fallen below 30% in a DigiPoll survey for the Herald.

The essentials:

National 54.2 (up 0.7 from last week); Labour 29.1 (down 1.2); Greens 10.1 (up 0.6); Maori Party 1.9 (up 0.7); NZ First 1.7 (down 1.1); Conservatives 1.1 (up 1.1); Act 0.9 (down 0.6); United Future 0.5 (up 0.4); Mana 0.1 (no change).

The big difference with yesterday's Horizon poll is the National number. Horizon had them at 35.7%; DigiPoll gives them a comfortable majority - and almost twenty per cent more - at 54.2%

At StatsChat, a new post from Andrew Balemi issues a further warning about the panel approach taken by Horizon.

2.15pm: BLOGGERS

Cactus Kate reckons it went like this:

1. Goff appears on a debate

2. Team Labour tweeters get on the twitter all night

3. Declare victory regardless of actual result.

But with the odd exception, the left-inclined bloggers weren’t well pleased with Goff’s performance last night.

Here’s Imperator Fish:

Labour needs to release its costings ASAP and go on its own offensive over National’s figures. When you’re trying to win power from the incumbent you can’t afford to be on the defensive over your costings.

And Gordon Campbell at Scoop:

The centre-left can feel justifiably furious at Goff and his minders for going into this debate without a narrative (much less a credible defence) for Labour’s election costings. Sorry, but “We’ll have them for you by the end of the week” doesn’t really cut it. Somehow, Goff managed to make Key look like a hard-headed and credible manager of the economy.

2.05pm: Speaking of RadioLive, I tuned in to its 2pm bulletin. Election stories first and second: unemployment and pressure on National over jobs, followed by the "high-tech HQ" stuff from National (see 1.10pm).

1.45pm: RadioLive is broadcasting a debate of the finance bods tonight at 7pm.

1.30pm: POLICY

The Greens' education policy is in PDF form here. There's a press release here. The new stuff is They'd bin national standards, push for 100% qualified early education teachers and resist public-private partnerships for schools.

1.20pm: Phil Goff must have watched our helpful Excel video, becase he's now promising that the Labour party's costings will be unveiled tomorrow. It feels like Christmas eve all of a sudden. It will reportedly "involve borrowing $2.6 billion more than National over three years".

Goff is thumping his chest, ladies and gentlemen: "We'll be showing New Zealand the money tomorrow. John Key needs to show New Zealand the jobs at the same time."

1.10pm: POLICY

National has launched some science and technology iniatives, centred around turning Industrial Research Limited into an advanced technology institute, or, more buzzily, "high-tech HQ".More detail in PDF form here.

A few other policy announcements are out - the Greens on education and, I think, Labour on immgration. We'll try to touch on those in the next hour or so.

1.05pm: According to this report at the TV3 website, Press editor Andrew Holden thinks Goff won the debate last night. It's not clear to me, though, where or to whom Holden made these remarks. Goff himself, meanwhile has conceded that Key did better in the section on the economy.

12.55pm: Tau Henare appears to have fallen over. A cry for help?

12.15pm: the Listener's arts and books editor, Guy Somerset, has been tweeting about the arts policies launched yesterday. Here's a taste:

It's a bit rich National trumpeting saving The Hobbit and then accusing Labour of using the arts for political advantage

Historians etc will like Labour's policy of CNZ funding for non-fiction and new contestable funding model "over time and as resources allow"

"Over time and as resources allow" is a great get-out, isn't it, and recurs again and again

Interesting priorities. Labour "believes arts, culture and heritage play an essential role in defining our nation's unique identity"

National leads with arts and culture putting New Zealand "on the international stage" ... and Chris Finlayson goes in on first the economic contribution and then the social

I could spend all day pondering the fact the first artform Labour refers to is poetry

It's a great scheme but there is something a tad comical in National pushing taking classical music "to young people in South Auckland"

12.05pm: Bad news and good on the state-of-NZ for National from National Radio's Midday Report. Unemployment is up by 3,000 in the quarter-year, but the UN ranks New Zealand as fifth best place to live in the world. Australia's second, mind you.

11.05am: The morning paper roundup is now up and running. The Press, naturally enough, leads with the debate last night.

10.30am: A little something, in the meantime, for David Cunliffe and Phil Goff.

Don't say we never do anything for you.

10.20am: Apologies for the pause in normal service. Papers soon, then a roundup of the blogs, and who knows what else.

TV3 Nightline reporter and raconteur Ali Ikram tweets:

It's always "show me the money!!!!!" in a political debate never "you had me at hello" or " you complete me"


TV One's Breakfast leads with last night's "heated clash" in Christchurch. One News will release its latest poll at 6pm this evening.

And that's them done on the campaign, until Hone Harawira appears on the sofa just before 8am. Conscious perhaps of his audience, he describes his economic policy as "not that radical". And, "Yeah, I can get on with Pete and Tari any day ... I get along with Pete regardless of the little spats we have."

TV3 Firstline is leading with the mayhem in Greece and the eurozone, followed by Wikileaks' Julian Assange losing his appeal against extradition to Sweden. Then (true to their promise of a world news focus) Syria. Fourth is the Rena, fifth William and Kate doing their thing for the African drought. Election? Pah.

At the top of the RNZ Morning Report bulletin is Phil Goff promising to produce those costings by the end of the week. Next is the Green party and their sympathies among other parties.

The programme promises a focus on the Christchurch recovery in its last hour.

Second in the Newstalk ZB 8am bulletin is an item baldly headlined by its newsreader, "Phil Goff has let himself down", introducing a summary of last night's debate. Then they go to Epsom and look at the tactical wrangling under way in the Auckland constituency.

I'm off to see a man about a dog. Morning papers and plenty more after 10am. The Herald has gone big on the Rena:

7.00am: "Show me the money!" demanded John Key of Phil Goff in the leaders' debate in Christchurch last night (relive the day in full here). Labour's promises, he insisted, left a $14bn hole in the budget. And by all accounts Goff struggled to show him the money.

Goff and his finance spokesman David Cunliffe need to knock out that spreadsheet, and soon.

A roundup of the morning bulletins soon, then the papers.
Historians etc will like Labour's policy of CNZ funding for non-fiction and new contestable funding model "over time and as resources allow"
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