Big data and an election coming soon near you

Bill English last year famously called his policy line “incremental radicalism”. Last week he did some “incremental incrementalism”. How will that run on “social media” in September?

“Radical” his superannuation qualifying age fix isn’t. No change till 2037 and then to 67 by 2040, though the 10-year residency requirement does go quickly out to 20 years.

read more

How to wrongfoot science in three easy lessons

Bill English has been the cabinet’s king advocate of data-mining. Last week he turned to anecdotes. That echoes his squeeze on science funding.

As Finance Minister and chief public service and social services reformer up to December, English gave many speeches on the value to be extracted from data on people, especially children, to find where to get the highest return for taxpayers’ money.

read more

Labour still afloat but has some hard rowing ahead

Jacinda Ardern is now standing in Helen Clark’s shoes. Can she stand as tall?

When Clark, at 31, won Labour’s Mt Albert nomination for the 1981 election, she had to finesse opposition from conservatives and anti-feminists in high places.

Ardern (like Grant Robertson) was nurtured with a stint in Clark’s office. She got offshore experience in London in Sir William Sargent’s Better Regulation Executive that hunted down for Tony Blair obstructive or historically anachronistic regulation. In 2008 she was president of the International Union of Socialist Youth.

read more

In parliamentary politics it’s the numbers that count

Numbers count in politics. Seven months from the election, how do they stack?

John Key’s National had supermajorities after the 2008 and 2011 elections. In 2008, to National’s 45% and 58 seats, either ACT or the Maori party alone could add five for 63 votes in a Parliament of 122.

National’s 47% and 59 seats in 2011 gave it a majority of the then 121 seats with the Maori party’s three or both ACT and Peter Dunne’s United Future (one each).

read more

A big issue inviting political energy renewal

The tawdry political news last week was a purity-versus-power internal Labour spat over the hashed recruitment of urban-Maori populist Willie Jackson to finesse the Maori party. There are other, useful ways Labour could expend its energy, as a report today will offer.

Labour spats don’t promote the alternative Labour+Greens government that has recently been getting legs. The latest poll average has Mr Reliable Bill English’s National at 48% to 27% for Andrew Little’s Labour and leading Labour+Greens by 9 points.

read more

Mr Reliable sets course for the election

It is beginning to look like a legacy: John Key’s practice of setting the election date early in election year. Bill English toed the line last week.

That this has now been done for three elections will make it less acceptable for future Prime Ministers to play guessing games with the date. It is a step towards a fixed term, which several Australian states have.

read more

Water and Waitangi: a constitutional matter

On Sunday Andrew Little and Metiria Turei jointly presented themselves as a two-party “government in waiting” for voters to switch to.

Support in the two parties for this Labour+Greens scheme has firmed over recent months. One big test for how firm voters judge it to be will be how many big joint policies they can promulgate. They are already close on several. A fiscal framework is due soon.

read more

The year of a politician who swapped jobs

In old rich Europe and United States, 2016 has been the year of the populist in politics.

Brexit and Donald Trump “surprised” and “shocked” snoozing “elite” commentators. Globalisation had lifted a billion or so out of poverty in “emerging” economies but for hundreds of millions in the rich world prosperity stalled or reversed and they are reacting accordingly.

read more