Labour’s new wave?

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters.
It does not seem hyperbolic to state the "Jacinda effect" is becoming a tsunami.

The latest  1News Colmar Brunton poll this week has put Labour in front of National in a position that seemed unimaginable weeks ago.

Labour is now up a further 6 points on the previous poll to 43% (to National’s 41%) — its highest point since 2006 when Helen Clark was in her third term as prime minister, and a meteoric difference from when Jacinda Ardern took over as leader.

Only a month ago, under previous leader Andrew Little, Labour was polling at just 24% and Mr Little was at just 6% in the preferred prime minister stakes.

Now, Ms Ardern has also overtaken Prime Minister Bill English in the preferred prime minister stakes, just leading him 34% to 33%.

The evidence is clear: Labour is not only sucking up the numbers from its traditional allies, the Greens (still damaged by the welfare fraud revelations of former co-leader Metiria Turei), but it is making inroads on other territory.

National is down three points to 41%, putting it at its lowest polling since 2005.

Despite  the continued comments to the contrary, it has to be seriously worried about the momentum. NZ First leader Winston Peters is fast losing his position as king or queenmaker, too, with his party down 2 points to 8% and his preferred PM rate down 3 points to 4%.

Of course it is only one poll, and there are still three weeks to go until the general election. Given the twists and turns in the campaign in the past month alone, literally anything seems possible.

The first leaders debate, conducted in the immediate aftermath of the poll, showed both leaders in a good light, playing to their expected strengths and trading the expected accusations of each other — although the debate was notable for its decorum.

The "dirty politics" tag has surfaced again, however, with the revelations of Mr Peters’ superannuation overpayment and his subsequent accusations of privacy breaches within  the Government  and public service.

The claims are serious on various levels. Mr Peters is right to question the processes by which his information was shared under the so-called "no surprises rule". It is vital to safeguard privacy, and he is not the first person to question whether there is politicisation of the public service. Clarity is desirable over the matter for everyone.

Mr Peters has built his reputation on holding others to account, demanding integrity and transparency of his fellow  politicians and public servants. Try as he might, his thunder cannot disguise the fact questions remain over his overpayments. The paperwork, which will be well known to hundreds of thousands of superannuitants, is straightforward. The relevant sections about living circumstances are absolutely clear. The requirements to confirm the status quo or changes are asked every year. As long as Mr Peters continues to hold out on releasing his paperwork, or waiving his right to privacy with the Ministry of Social Development, he does the public, whom he claims to serve, a disservice.

The payment fault lies with someone. That needs to be clarified and remedied. If it is a systemic error that could affect other payments, that is essential.

Integrity is increasingly in the spotlight. Indeed, Ms Turei paid the price when her’s was questioned. Ms Ardern is making inroads with a values-based message. Mr Peters would be wise to heed the incoming tide of opinion.

Comments

My concern with the Jacinda Tsunami is that there are some quite radical policies that aren't being discussed. At the beginning of August Kelvin Davis was proposing prisons specific to different racial groups and a drastic cut in the prison population. There is to be a discussion on becoming a republic. Medical marijuana came up at the debate and Jacinda just said "Yes". What does that mean?
All of this is to be looked at after the election but would be nice to know what we are in for. The water policy and capital gains tax are in there as well.