On the campaign trail in Dunedin North with Victor Billot

Alliance Party blog

Posts Tagged ‘Election 2008

How the dice fall

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Well, it has been a big few months. Last night’s result was a mixed one. It’s great news if you are a millionaire living in a gated community but bad news if you are a worker, student, or beneficiary.

An economic recession is on us, caused by the irresponsible actions of an unregulated global finance system, and we have elected one of these speculator parasites as our leader. Curious but true.

The result was no big surprise of course. Here’s my take on the parties:


Obviously a big deal in the middle class suburbs of Auckland but no one seemed to be celebrating in Dunedin. Key is as shallow as a bird bath and is a bad choice for Prime Minister. His background is based around self-interest and personal wealth accumulation, positive traits for a currency trader but not for a leader of a nation. They have benefited from a swing to the right, which brings us to  . . . 


The big surprise is Clark and Cullen packing it in. They neglected their core support, a party of the left has to rely on a sense of class identity amongst workers, and Labour were busy trying to dissolve this over the last nine years and appeal to middle class liberals.
The next stage will be blood letting as the careerists trample on each other to reposition themselves in a new Goff-led Liberal (Labour) Party.


A reasonable showing but their commitment to across the board income tax cuts and “resource taxes” indicate an essentially right wing approach to economics.
Jeanette and Russell always seemed to be saying we are not left or right, when I hear this I recall the old union saying “no politics is bosses politics.” 
The Greens have their place as an environmentalist niche party. However they cannot fill the need for a principled, democratic socialist party in New Zealand politics. 

New Zealand First, Jim Anderton Supporters Club, Peter Dunne, Douglas

Winston’s demise indicates the beginning of the end for his generation. Anderton and Dunne now look like men out of time, in the wrong century, and the return of Douglas is a freakish aberration that will harm ACT.
Minor parties based on personality cults have been the great weakness of MMP, but that is a poor reflection of our politics rather than our electoral system. In three years time, will any of these actors still be on the stage?

Maori Party

Politically all over the place, the Maori Party have entered a dangerous time as they position themselves to cut deals with the Nationalists. Could get ugly.

Where to from here?

The National Government in coalition with ACT will be forced to make a call on whether they reduce the tax cuts or honour their promise not to attack core social services. Of course as the recession starts to bite, they will return to form as the “bosses party” and protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful by simply reneging on their commitments as they did in the 1990s.

Those who suffer will be the most vulnerable – the young, the old, the working class in casual jobs, the ill, the poor.

The big question is whether this will result in a response of dazed acceptance and surrender, or whether the left can provide the leadership to focus and generate an alternative to the politics of greed and fear.

I believe we can and I look forward to being part of that movement.

More thoughts to follow!

Written by Victor

November 9, 2008 at 2:07 am

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Back in two ticks

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I think this article from Alliance list candidate Sarah Campbell sums up the situation nicely.

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November 4, 2008 at 9:08 am

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Last stand at the OPOHO Corral

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Last night was the final election meeting in Dunedin and it went out with a bit of a bang at the always successful Opoho Church forum.

This is my last candidate review for the election season 2008 and to make a change from usual I will attempt to give each candidate credit for what I think is their strong suit.

In the interests of fairness I will not review myself, but comments are welcome.

Hilary Calvert (ACT): Hilary ended as she started with a reprise of her campaign themes and inimitable style. As always she began her speech telling the crowd they wouldn’t like what they were about to hear. My recommendation is a quick flick through “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie to fix this problem.
Once again the big themes were Government (hospitals, schools, roads etc) – it’s all bad – and students (they drink beer.)
To give her due, Hilary has been the most consistent of the candidates. No matter how unpopular, wild eyed or just plain wrong, Hilary sticks to the message. She is consistently opposed to any form of collective, social or community approach. For Hilary it’s down to the individual.

Mike Woodhouse (National): Mike has refined his patter over the campaign and has avoided problem areas for National (policy) in favour of winning hearts and minds by sheer bloody minded middle of the road blandness.
The whiff of ruling class paternalism comes through in his homilies about how he looks after “my staff” but in the main Mike has come to impressively embody the entire National Party campaign. Chameleon like, Mike is the reverse of Hilary, giving the audience what they want to hear and quickly figuring out which way the wind is blowing on any given occasion. Tonight he had some support in the form of Nick Smith MP and a pack of minders who turned up while in town. Shame they can’t vote in the local electorate.

Pete Hodgson (Labour): Pete has struggled to keep up with the form of old. The dry monotone rolls out pages of statistics, corrects audience members and occasionally bites back if contradicted. Sitting on a seven zillion vote majority, I suppose it is hard to get much enthusiasm up. However Pete is always ready with the data and plods away with scientific precision on any given topic, reducing the audience to a glazed silence in the process.

Metiria Turei (Greens): Metiria has given a strong performance in the campaign and managed to combine the social and ecological message in a way that is beyond most other Green MPs. However she continues to fudge economic questions by saying she is not an economist. I don’t accept this, any political figure in my view has to have a grasp of economic issues, and if they don’t have one, it’s time to get one.
At last tonight we managed to identify a core difference between Alliance and Greens. The Greens stand for resource taxes and the Alliance stands for progressive taxes. albeit with a small amount of crossover. In short this means the taxation system that pays for Green policies may be good for the environment but they will be bad for low income people.

Tonight’s debate was more lively than many with a better turnout. My impression about the campaign has been there is less energy and less interest from the public. Many meetings have been smaller than 2005 and the mood has been muted. Personally I think this is a bad sign for the Government, although this would probably have to be the worst time in fifteen years to be elected, given the financial outlook.

Mind you, it seems Dunedin with its left wing vibe is on a different track from our northern cousins. The Nationalists seem to have captured the wallets of the individualistic, self-obsessed middle class, and the polls may well reflect this. However, the incoming recession will soon create cracks in the current political-social scene and the next few years promises to be a very interesting time . . .

Written by Victor

November 2, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Vote Eric Gamble!

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Written by Victor

October 27, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Democracy Deficit

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Written by Victor

October 23, 2008 at 7:57 am

The Star Chamber

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The Star Chamber used to be a kind of kangaroo court in the traditional, family values good old days that conservatives look back fondly on.

Fortunately, in Dunedin our Star is the community newspaper and our Chamber is the worthy local business fraternity, and together they were kind enough to put on an election forum last night at the Town Hall’s Glenroy Auditorium – probably the biggest of the campaign for Dunedin.

The night was well organized and well attended with a solid media contingent. Coverage included local TV Channel 9 who ran this story tonight.

The forum featured representatives from most parties. However, some notable exceptions. The sitting MP for Dunedin North Pete Hodgson and the Labour candidate for Dunedin South Clare Curran were not in attendance. Barring illness or personal emergency, why would the two leading candidates for Dunedin not bother to show for such a major forum?

According to ACT candidate Hilary Calvert it’s because they can take their seats for granted. Not that I am in the habit of agreeing with Hilary, but I’ve yet to hear a good explanation of their absence. (Update: Well, obviously my blog is being read by someone, because Clare came up to me last night and told me she had been at a Pacific Island community event, so there.) Labour list MP David Parker stood in for both of them.

Neither the Peter Dunne Fan Club, the Winston Peters Fan Club, nor the Jim Anderton Fan Club could find anyone who could be bothered to speak on their behalf, unlike my own party the Alliance which had both our North Dunedin and South Dunedin candidates in attendance – despite the fact we are outside Parliament and lack all the resources of these so-called “parliamentary” parties.

However, we did get some special guest appearances for the night.

The outstanding candidate for the night was once again Robert Wansink of Restore All Things In Christ. This is a candidate who must be seen and heard to be believed.

Robert reached fame during the 2005 election where his eyebrow raising presentation at the same forum was noted on my blog, picked up by Kiwiblog, and apparently even made it to the New Zealand Herald.

At the 2005 forum, Robert boldly claimed that the other candidates were representatives of the AntiChrist, which did not disturb a card carrying atheist such as myself, but caused some interesting facial expressions on the candidate for the Destiny Party.

This time round, I made a point of seeking him out before the meeting. I hoped our previous religious debate had not soured things and was pleased to find Robert in good form. He noted that he had seen my blog and I had got one thing wrong – he had been quoting Aristotle not Plato.

I discovered that Robert is a fundamentalist (my word) Roman Catholic. Apparently some popes are in, some popes are out. He is trained in mathematics and exclusively attends Latin Mass. Anyway, once the evening got underway, I was bemused by the fact Robert was actually making quite a bit of sense. He made a joke about the usury of insurance companies, which went down well, and discussed ways of making retirement savings more secure. What had happened? I was beginning to worry that Robert had lost his way amongst the temporal realm.

Not to worry. Robert made my night with his elegantly righteous response to a question on climate change. According to Robert, climate change is nothing new. Climate change has already occurred in the Great Flood with forty days and forty nights of rain, and when Sodom and Gomorrah had burned under fire from the heavens. This was the first explanation of climate change as a Godly phenomenon I had come across.

The crowd went wild.

Apart from that, everything seem pale in comparison. David Parker yelled a bit at the end but I can’t remember what about. Dunedin South National candidate Conway Powell got his policies wrong and was corrected by a smiling Dunedin North National candidate Mike Woodhouse.

After the long suffering Conway got beaten down the National Party list by new boy Mike, it must be even more galling for him to be corrected in front of a hooting crowd. Conway was all over the place tonight as he tried to give what sounded suspiciously like a left wing Keynesian analysis of the National Party’s new finance programme.

Mike Woodhouse managed a trademark smooth recovery from someone in the crowd reading out his embarrassing quote from the Critic magazine.

The independent for Dunedin South David Bernhardt is a sincere tryer who subscribed to policies which seemed to be the closest thing to the old DLP in Australia. The Democrats for Social Credit had a solid candidate in Dawn McIntosh who gave a good old fashioned presentation. My fellow Alliance candidate Kay Murray fired up for the occasion as well.

I hope to post some video footage later on.

Written by Victor

October 21, 2008 at 8:38 am

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Making movies

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I returned last night from Auckland and working on the Alliance opening address for TV. The filming and editing was done by a small team at TVNZ who did an efficient job. I came up with the concept and from the early edits I saw I am pleased with how it came out. I was also pleased to use some music and creative contributions from friends in the ad. Democracy in action – it appeals to the indie punk rock DIY attitude. No corporate sponsors or ad agencies running this one!

I understand the finished product will be on TV around 8 October. 

Here’s a pic of me helping out on the set by waving around a large piece of polystyrene.

Written by Victor

September 17, 2008 at 11:18 pm