Mar 17, 2011

Brief thoughts on the Native Affairs' poll

Monday’s episode of Native Affairs was incredibly interesting. The show commissioned a poll that surveyed Maori on a number of issues including the Maori Party/National Party coalition and Hone Harawira. In this post I want to give my brief thoughts on the results of some of the questions the poll posed.  

Interestingly, support for Labour remains strong at 37%. This is encouraging for the party considering the invisibility of many of their Maori MP’s. I think this reflects Labour’s core support. Remember that Labour polled at around 50% on election night, therefore it is probably safe to assume that many Maori voters have swung towards National (22%) and New Zealand First (5%). The Maori Party is sitting on 32% which, in light of the Hone Harawira saga, is encouraging for them. I find it hard to explain why the Nat’s are polling so high among Maori. I would suggest though that telephone polls tend to reach middle class voters who do not work shifts and with phone connections, obviously. It is safe to assume support for the Nats is highest among middle income Maori. Furthermore, the relationship between the Maori Party and the Nats lends them some credibility with Maori. New Zealand First has always done well among Maori and I am not surprised to see that Winston, or should I say New Zealand First, is polling at a respectable 5%. Winston’s, for lack of a better term, Maori boy charisma is fairly attractive and his nationalist rhetoric goes down well with many working class Maori. Sadly, the Greens are polling at a mere 3%. This is utterly perplexing. The Greens are the only party with any credibility on Maori issues and Green policy is, in my strongly held opinion, best for Maori. Meteria Turei, a wahine Maori of some mana, is also the party’s leader. I really wish Maori would swing behind the Greens rather than slave away supporting Labour when Labour is offering nothing.

Hone does not register in the above question, however when respondents were asked whether they would support a Hone Harawira led party 32% said yes while 52% said no. This is extremely significant. As stated the Maori Party is currently sitting on 32% support. How much of that 32% represents the 32% that would vote for a Hone Harawira led party? Most I would say. If Harawira could translate that support into votes on election day then he could well bring in a number of MP’s. The Maori Party, and National for that matter, should be very worried. On these numbers Hone could split the Maori vote and theoretically annihilate the Maori Party. For me, this is all the confirmation I need that Hone will form a new party. Furthermore, in an interview during the show Hone claims to have financial backers in place. Finance was the last hurdle for Hone. The machinery is in place, thanks to the Unite Union, the rank and file is prepared, the advisors are in place, the staffers that left the Maori Party have joined Hone and now, according to Hone, the financial backers have been found. Brilliant.

The poll also asked respondents what their main areas of concern were. 71% said unemployment was a major concern, no surprises given the stratospheric Maori unemployment rate. 66% said the cost of living, this is also not surprising given the astronomical rise in petrol prices and food prices and the CPI as a whole. 62% said GST was a major concern, some items have almost doubled in price following the rise in GST so, again, no surprise. Interestingly 59% said privatisation was a major concern, this will give Labour hope that their message is resonating. 53% cited tax cuts for the rich as a major area of concern too. These are issues that the Labour Party and indeed Hone Harawira can run hard on. On the other hand the Maori Party can not because they are implicated in all of this by virtue of their association with the Nats and in some cases their endorsement of the above concerns, for example GST. The two bottom issues were treaty settlements and the foreshore and seabed. This is unsurprising but pertinent. This indicates that the election will focus on bread and butter issues (cost of living etc). The foreshore and seabed and treaty issues can be relegated without consequence – or with little consequence. This is good for Labour given that the party has no credibility on the foreshore and seabed issue yet a huge amount of credibility on unemployment.

Now I just want to address two points unrelated to the poll. Firstly, Hekia Parata is an arrogant and angry person. She is truly toxic when it comes to debate. She lacks civility and any sense of reason. I was particularly pissed off when she claimed that it is merely a “perception” that people are worse off under National rather than a tangible reality. It takes an arrogant person to disregard and belittle the feelings of a great number of people. Secondly, Hone was wearing jandals in his interview. I liked that.

So I encourage you to watch the program for yourself. It was one of the most informative political broadcasts of the year.   

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