This election campaign has a certain depoliticised and contrived aspect to it. Certainly the gap between politicians and the public has never been larger, with little meaningful engagement by politicians with the public, low enrolment for the election, and the likelihood of a low voter turnout on Saturday. This is the focus of my opinion piece in the Herald today: Designer politics a real turn-off for the nation's voters. I explain why fewer people are voting in general elections and why we shouldn't condemn those that choose not to participate. This is contentious, and there are always plenty of voices demanding that we all perform our 'democratic duty' at election time - see, for example Jane Bowron's Get off your backsides and vote - please. Such directives - while well intentioned - won't resonate with those who feel patronised by being told you 'must vote' regardless of how repulsed you are by what passes for the options on offer and the electoral circus that is the contemporary campaign.
Brian Edwards writes an excellent blog post on the inauthenticity of modern party policies - and how instead of coming up with genuinely held beliefs and trying to convince us of these, modern political parties 'follow' the public through the use of market research so as to give the public want they want - see: Leadership, Followship and the Tyranny of the Focus Group.
There are quite a few items today about the inanities of election advertising - especially billboards. For example, in Confusion reigns amid sign blitz, Joshua Drummond has written an amusing parody of the 'sign-gularity' notion that we all simply vote for the party with the best and most billboards. Similarly, a Nelson Mail editorial (Ugly billboards are obvious targets) asks if 'a single voter has been empty-headed enough to cast his or her votes based simply - or even partly - on the message contained on a political billboard?' Other interesting items about billboards include Michelle Cooke's Kaye lets public loose with her slogans and Blog Idle's Billboards, trees and comparative loveliness. And Peter Lange's pro-Paul Goldsmith campaign poster for Epsom - which is aimed at sinking the Act Party - can be downloaded from here: Epsom campaign poster, by Peter Lange.
A lot of questions are being asked at the moment about the legitimacy and ethics of some more extreme forms of negative campaigning. Derek Cheng reports today on the Labour Party's justification for sending out advertising that seeks to shock people out of voting for National - see: 'Hard hitting' leaflet tells truth, says Goff. Whaleoil broke the original story with his blog post, Labour is the nasty party, ctd. Since then, Matthew Hooton has blogged a scathing attack on Labour's Grant Robertson for losing his 'moral compass': Labour plumbs new depths. David Farrar covers similar themes in Flirting with the truth. Russell Brown also covers the issue of social media campaigning on election day - see: The Solemnity of the Day. But it might be meteorological conditions that are a much greater factor in the election outcome - see Philip Duncan's Talk about the weather, and politics.
Unsurprisingly, the Greens are receiving a lot of attention this week - partly because of their very high opinion poll ratings (which will probably rise further), and because the party is now set to potentially play a central role in determining post-election governmental arrangements. Some heat is being applied to the party in an attempt to clarify its new coalition policy - see RNZ's Greens not ruling out confidence and supply deal with National and TV3's Greens coalition with National "hypothetical question" - Norman. Other interesting items about the Greens include: TV3's Green Party ready to flex muscles after election, Adam Bennett's Greens promise help for small businesses, TV3's A harder edge to the Greens?, Paul Little's Greens thrive as we face dirty truth, No Right Turn's The Greens, abstention and cooperation, and the Herald's editorial Wild Greens nowhere to be seen.
iPredict has launched a new Greens-related election stock option: 'Labour party vote to exceed Green party vote by at least 10 points in the 2011 General Election', and this is currently trading at a 97% possibility (which is surely way too high). Also, on iPredict, the stocks for 'At least one Green Party MP to be a Minister in next government' has now edged up to 20%.
Other very worthwhile reads today are: Karl du Fresne's Claiming political scalps for sport, Claire Robinson's Undies Undies Togs: Undressing the Epsom Talk Scandal, Deborah Russell's Property divide creating second-class citizens, Keith Ng's Brain Drain Et Cetera, Tim Watkin's TV3 leaders' debate - my first impressions, and Gordon Campbell's On last night's TV3 debate.
Brian Edwards: Leadership, Followship and the Tyranny of the Focus Group
Russell Brown (Public address): The Solemnity of the Day
Keith Ng (Public address): Brain Drain Et Cetera
Tim Watkin (Pundit): The world is a (TV) stage - Key and Goff the players
Tracy Watkins (Stuff): Voters warned they have a stark choice
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Making your vote count
Bryce Edwards (NZH): Designer politics a real turn-off for the nation's voters
Jane Bowron (Press): Get off your backsides and vote - please
Colin James (ODT): Brand-Key and a long work-in-progress list
Karl du Fresne (Dom Post): Claiming political scalps for sport
Deborah Russell (Dom Post): Property divide creating second-class citizens
Philip Duncan (NZH): Talk about the weather, and politics
Robert Kimbell (Global dialog): New Zealand: The prospect of a political earthquake
Grant Miller (Manawatu Standard): Steadfast Goff may yet buy time
Kate Chapman (Stuff): Key to bus it through the North Island
Clare Curran (Red Alert): Out of the mouths of babes
Matthew Hooton (electionresults): Clare Curran. Prize Twit.
Megan Nicol Reed (SST): By the vote divided
Blog Idle (Stuff): Billboards, trees and comparative loveliness
Nelson Mail: Editorial - Ugly billboards are obvious targets
Electoral Commission: Absolute Last Chance To Enrol to Vote for the Election
Michelle Cooke (Stuff): Kaye lets public loose with her slogans
Joshua Drummond (Waikato Times): Confusion reigns amid sign blitz
electionresults: iPredict Daily Election Update #7: Labour losing more ground
John Hartevelt (Stuff): Nats' education policy under attack
Unorthodox, negative, and smear campaigning
Duncan Wilson (RadioLIVE): Epsom campaign poster, by Peter Lange
Derek Cheng (NZH): 'Hard hitting' leaflet tells truth, says Goff
Matthew Hooton (electionresults): Labour plumbs new depths
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): Flirting with the truth
Whaleoil: Labour is the nasty party, ctd
David Farrar (Kiwiblog): A second Labour smear campaign
Debbie Porteous (ODT): National likely to complain after illegal pamphlet drop