There's some kind of principle accepted in the print media that good news doesn't sell newspapers but bad news does.

Most cynically, this theory is expressed in the adage 'if it bleeds it leads", meaning that gory offences will be what you and I see on the billboards selling your daily paper and we will end up with a mistaken view that violent crime is out of control when, in reality, it is declining.

This week will, therefore, be (hopefully) a bad one for the newspaper industry as good news broke out in the US and right here, with the awful Donald Trump's party losing a "safe" Senate seat in an Alabama election, and the new Labour government launching a serious attack on child poverty.

Elections always fascinate me and the special election to fill the vacant United States Senate seat in Alabama, normally a very safe seat for President Donald Trump's Republican Party, was a cliff-hanger which was taken by Doug Jones for the opposition Democrat Party in an upset which will hamper whatever nasty programme the Trump administration cooks up next.


President Donald Trump appointed Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as United States Attorney General in the certainty that his Alabama seat would return a Republican member to secure his narrow majority in the US Senate, but this didn't happen.

Early analysis suggests that African-Americans enrolled and voted in unprecedented numbers and I think that Labour Party president Nigel Haworth and general secretary Andrew Kirton will have noticed this new level of political engagement from a similar and usually inert electoral populace and see what can be learnt.

About half of enrolled voters in the Maori electorates fail to participate in elections and a higher turnout in these seats can only benefit a Labour Government looking for another term in office.

It's a habit for newspaper columnists including amateurs like myself to appoint "politicians of the year" and, indeed, I was one myself according to one commentator many moons ago.

Anybody who reads this piece should be aware that I am genetically biased against the National Party.

I learned my politics from my mother who was the child of a deserted wife during The Great Depression.

She suffered real poverty and, because of her influence, I have not forgotten that working class people of her generation were sent to the local hospital when threatened with starvation as many were.

Mum blamed the "Tory" government for this state of affairs and, in her view, the current manifestation of "Toryism", namely the National Party, had learned nothing.

In her view they – The National Party - were "lower than vermin".

I heard this line on many occasions and with the huge advantage of internet searching I found the origin of this quote.

It comes a speech by Aneurin Bevan, a Welsh Labour MP who crafted the British health service as we know it today and which we largely imitate.

He said: "That is why no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party that inflicted those bitter experiences on me. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. They condemned millions of first-class people to semi-starvation".


If you think that's tough or not locally applicable, get an updated report on the queues at the foodbanks around this country. There are still lots of people short of food in this wealthy place.

The National Party, which I abhor for good reasons (as above), will need to have long a navel-gazing exercise.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow has said nothing since his party's defeat and there seems to be no attempt to replace Steven Joyce as his party's campaign manager.
Joyce has screwed up big time.

Not once, but twice and he still up speaks on behalf of his party.

First, when Winston Peters won Northland, Joyce should have offered the New Zealand First Leader the seat forever, just like the offer which was on the table at the time for Peter Dunne in Ohariu and David Seymour in Epsom.

Joyce's second cock-up is at least explicable. He believed a poll in a Maori electorate.
The biggest surprise on election night was the defeat of Te Ururoa Flavell in the Maori seat of Waiariki.

Joyce didn't see this coming and it contributed to his party losing the election.
National abandoned campaigning in Maori electorates years ago and Joyce did not have the experience that would have corrected the polling information he commissioned.
My advice to National Party President Peter Goodfellow should be obvious.

Fire this man. Do it now.

Mike Williams grew up in Hawke's Bay. He is CEO of the NZ Howard League and a former Labour Party president. All opinions are his and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.