Is the election race closer than assumed wisdom suggest? Those who say nothing's changed in the past few months are missing the political pachyderm staring them in the face
Last week I began the argument that the November election will be closer than most seem to assume, and that Phil Goff’s Labour Party just might lead the next government.
As if by magic, the Herald published its irregular “Digipoll” which showed a significant narrowing of the gap between the two big parties.
This may not enough to put Labour seriously in the hunt right now, but it’s a straw in the wind which may bring the election within a campaignable distance for Phil Goff.
On Jim Mora’s excellent “Panel” segment on National Radio, Research New Zealand principal, Emmanuel Kalafatelis, expressed doubt about the findings of the poll on the grounds that he couldn’t think of anything that had happened during the poll’s capture period to close the gap.
Kalafatelis boasts a vast depth of expertise in political research having begun his career in the seminal Heylen organisation many moons ago, but I wonder if he isn’t missing something obvious.
The worn out metaphor of an elephant in the room is handy here.
The political pachyderm may well be National’s rediscovered enthusiasm for privatisation of state assets.
I had the luck to be a founding director of a market research company in the eighties and I can say with authority that even at the height of the privatisation orgy which marked that decade, the punters hated the word, the process and the results.
Not much has changed judging by current research, and over the ditch we have witnessed a long established Labor Government in New South Wales unravel badly, partly as a result of a similar electricity asset privatisation proposal, and crash to NSW Labor’s worst ever defeat.
Most interesting about the train of events in New South Wales is that the policy became more unpopular as time went on.
The effects of a privatisation agenda were not just immediately negative for the governing party; they were also corrosive over time.
In Queensland the same drama seems to be playing out and Anna Bligh’s Labor administration appears headed for the same fate driven by the same enthusiasm for privatisation.
Watch this space.
If Labour now has an issue, can its organisation best National in what, for whatever reason, is shaping up to be another close election?
Political party organisations are more important with MMP than they ever were under FPP. More next week.