(Not) Crushed

Today is Monday October 19th. Kia ora katoa.

We are on a bit of a roll, here. Labour won the election, (I had a wee dram to celebrate), and the All Blacks won their match against the Wallabies on Sunday afternoon. Well done, Aotearoa!

Last Saturday was Election Day. In previous days, Judith Collins had made two verbal gaffes, saying that overweight people should take responsibility for their weight (this did not go down well, and the Crusher is not exactly sylph-like herself); and she had a go at the greenies in Tasmania. Really, who cares? Perhaps she was trying to prepare folks for her party’s dismal loss, revealed on Election Night.  A poll had come out a few days earlier suggesting that National and Act could form a coalition government overriding a potential Labour/Greens coalition.  This scared many of us, but we need not have worried, as it turned out.

Election Day It was a wet day, unlike the previous fine and sunny day. JD and I, having already voted, went to the Tawa Spring Fair, only it was wet and not at all spring-like. It was distinguished by the absence of any signs for voting booths, although I had checked beforehand that there were four.

The café where we had a lovely lunch was very busy indeed; thankfully, we got a small table, which I sat at while JD ordered.  Afterwards, we went home to await the election results, from 7 pm, when the polls closed.

The results came through much faster than I remember previously: perhaps because of early voting, meaning counting could begin earlier; and New Zealanders seem to have got the hang of tactical voting. In many cases, the electorate winner and the party vote proportions were quite different.

Surprises on the night? Well, there were a few;

  • The proportion of votes to parties stayed fairly consistent throughout the evening, with Labour having 49-50%, National 25 – 30%, the Greens up to 8% and Act slightly higher, up to just under 10%.
  • It became apparent fairly early in the evening that Labour would have enough seats to govern without forming a coalition, should they wish to;
  • Many National seats, long held by National, went to Labour candidates; Gerry Brownlee lost his electoral seat in Ilam, and Nick Smith in Nelson; Dr Shane Reti  lost his National seat; Lawrence Yule lost the Tukituki seat. Apparently Brownlee and Smith will remain as list MPs, despite their electorates voting against them in droves.
  • Greg O’Connor, having a very slim majority over Brett Hudson last election, had a huge majority this time;
  • NZ First dipped out sadly, not getting anywhere near the 5% needed to field a member of parliament; Tracy Martin, a good candidate and Minister for Children in the previous government, did surprisingly poorly in the Ohariu Electorate, for which she was standing. Why was she with NZ First, one wonders?
  • Shane Jones, another former NZ First  MP, did very poorly.
  • Winston Peters did surprisingly poorly. I love to dislike him immensely, but he did give us the last Labour – led government, and the Super Gold Card, for which many of us are truly grateful. He is 75 years old, after all.– a mere chicken where many American politicians are concerned.
  • Chloe Swarbrick (Greens) won Auckland Central;
  • The Advance NZ Party (Freedoms, fraud and conspiracy theories) got only 19,000 votes;
  • The Act party gained considerable support, more than the Greens;
  • Jacinda Ardern’s fiancé Clarke Gayford brought out a tray of barbecued food for journalists waiting outside their Sandringham home.

There were marked differences between National and Labour Party headquarters and celebrations; the National one was necessarily very bland and evidently poorly attended; Labour had booked out the Auckland Town Hall, which was probably a little large for them (anyone for parking in Central Auckland on a Saturday night?), and although it was decked out a bit like the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington for the Labour Party rally, the setting was muted.  I was very impressed when Jacinda came on and spoke in Māori initially, and then the screen behind her was lit in a soft blue, not glaring red, despite the sea of red that was the election result. She spoke graciously, as ever. 

National MPs were for the most part gracious in conceding defeat in their electorate seats; the numbers of list MPs will be determined by special votes being counted. No one claimed the election had been rigged, or stolen, or unfair. So far as I know, voters were welcomed, not intimidated. I admit being not quite correct here: Advance NZ claimed it was rigged.

There were two referenda to be voted on, too: one to legalise cannabis, and the other to legalise euthanasia for the terminally ill. Thankfully those results don’t come in till later.

New Zealanders have voted overwhelmingly for kindness and care, and respected many overseas views that Jacinda, along with her team, Ashley Bloomfield, Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and others, have been quite magnificent, in ensuring that everyone in New Zealand should have enough to eat and be able to access medical care should they need it. The borders remain closed, and entry barred to non-New Zealanders, unless there are exceptional circumstances (e.g. film making, fishing). Everyone seems to be coping. The cities and small towns seem busy, although technically NZ is in a recession. Children are in school, sport is being played, domestic flights are full. Let’s hold is there for a bit.

This is a remarkable result for Labour, in that even under MMP, they have won outright and don’t have to govern in coalition.

It is now Monday 26 October, and I continue to bask in this glory. It has struck me during the past week that failure tends to far outweigh success, but this success should be savoured for a few days, at least.

Media commentary has been constructive, for the most part.  Labour has significant hard work ahead, but there’s no doubt being expressed about their competence; there has been much reasoned and realistic discussion about National’s downfall, and Act’s success. This latter has surprised me: they didn’t really campaign south of Auckland – there seemed to be a multitude of far-right, conservative parties; David Seymour didn’t run many advertisements, but he seemed to pop up on my mobile phone all the time in the days running up to the election.

Last week I had a dental check on Monday, I enjoyed Tai Chi (restarting for term 4) on Tuesday, hymn singing on Wednesday, choir singing on Thursday, and on Friday a friend and I lunched together at Prefab, which was super busy. Don’t all these people have jobs, my friend wondered. Afterwards, we wandered around Moore Wilson’s, before catching a bus back to Johnsonville.

That evening JD and I went to the opening of a Watercolour Exhibition; on Saturday evening, we went to a beautiful concert at the Michael Fowler Centre, and then we saw the Three Tenors movie.  I’m also reading “The Splendid and the Vile”, by Erik Larson: a very interesting read.

That’s it for now. I’ll save the news from overseas for another time. Nga mihi.

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