Votes and goats

ballot-boxHey guys, it’s general election times! I made an advance vote yesterday, which was rather thrilling. Previously advance voting was only available to people who would otherwise be occupied on polling day, but now anyone can do it. I don’t think “too hungover to get out of bed on Saturday” used to count, but it does now!

In a little meeting room inside the Waikato District Council office cum library, I cast my advance vote. It was the first day advance voting was available in Raglan, but I could have done it last week if I’d gone to Ngaruawahia or Hamilton or… Inglewood.

Whangamonona in happier times (i.e. when I went there in 2006 and had some wedges for lunch at the the pub).
Whangamonona in happier times (i.e. when I went there in 2006 and had some wedges for lunch at the the pub).
Oh, that’s right. The little Waikato town of Raglan is in the Taranaki-King Country electorate. This came about by Stratford being moved into the Whanganui electorate, so the Electoral Commission expanded Taranaki-King Country north to take in some parts of the Waikato.

I could have cast my vote in New Plymouth or Te Kuiti or even the little village of Whangamomona. In 1989 it declared itself an independent republic and elected a goat as the president. Election day road trip!!!

But I’m lazy so I just went down the road to the Raglan library and voted there. A huge burden has been lifted. I now no longer have to pay any attention to the pre-election amateur dramatics and tomcockery.

Highly symbolic.
Highly symbolic.

Live blogging the election

It’s a Saturday. I’m in Raglan. I have nothing better to do so I’m live-blogging the general election.

7.05 So I’ve decided to live blog the election results. I’m at my parents’ watching the election coverage on TV1, natch.

7.09 I voted earlier today at the Michael Fowler Centre (chosen for its splendid architecture). I got all emotional when I realised I was voting in Wellington Central. Also, it was in the same room that the American election shindig was held. I call this the Room of Democracy.

7.12 In other news, my friends Dylz and Mel have just had a baby. He will be named Helen.

7.13 Ha ha – United Future’s TV abbreviation is UNF.

7.15 On the telly – lots of gentlemen with graphs. Oh, you know what? If you have Freeview, you should watch the Back Benches Election Special. It’s going to be rad.

7.17 TVNZ are having a barbecue out on the deck. Last election there was no BBQ; instead that bloody guy threatened to fly his plane into the Sky Tower.

7.18 I’m being lured with delicious steak IRL.

7.41 Steak consumed. Back to the telly. You can nae make conclusions with only 4% counted.

7.46 I asked Mum if she considered voting for NZ First as Winston’s Gold Card has given her all sorts of fabulous discounts. She laughed, as if the idea of voting for them was completely unthinkable.

7.48 So who did Mum vote for? “I thought ‘fuck it’ and voted National.” Please note: my mum never says the F word.

7.51 Dad voted Green as they were his best choice for a coalition partner with both National and Labour.

7.52 Also, whanau are in a badly drawn electorate – they live in the Waikato but are in the Taranaki-King Country electorate. Mental!

8.05 Watching some politcal comedy on TV1. It’s not awse.

8.08 Yeah, the first hour or so is kind of dull. News break – Obama: he’s awesome!

8.12 Time for Back Benches. Watching Tanerau introducing Wallace to the Whiteboard-o-tron 2000. Srsly bringing the lolz.

8.16 This is nice – entertaining political and election coverage. Go, Back Benches!

8.19 Oh, Heather Roy has dyed her hair yellow to match party colours!

8.21 Dessert – cherry clafouti.

8.24 Hilariously, Heather’s Roy’s hairdresser is being interviewed. But not about Roy’s yellow hair – she’s a first-time voter.

8.33 This blogging seems so inadequate without a hologram of Will.i.am.

8.41 “I still think he’s a sell-out and he betrayed the worker’s struggle” – some Marxist guy brings the lolz.

8.44 Dear Kiwi Party girl has no apparent media training and just keeps digging her hole with great hilariousness.

8.47 “There’s hardly been a story on Wellington Central,” moans Sue Kedgley. Well, true. Is it an indicator seat or is it just a bit too random for that?

8.49 Stephen Franks likes reading Whale Oil blog. Oh dear.

8.51 Back Benches doesn’t have a scroll of results, so it’s kind of like taking a little break from the madness. Well, there’s also the web for results.

8.56 I support MMP because the first two elections I voted in (’93 and ’96), I was in the Waikato electorate, a “safe” National seat. I ticked the box for the McGillicuddy Serious candidate as a protest of sorts (and because McGS did good political art stunts). It actually paid off in one way – McGS got enough votes to earn airtime for political ads, but MMP was the death of them when party votes actually counted. So when 1999 came, I gleefully voted for the MP and party I wanted. Neither of them got into government, though.

9.02 Is “overhang” the political equivalent of a muffin top?

9.04 Brittany, the first-time hairdresser voter, is pouting and posing as she talks about her voting experience. Put that on your Bebo.

9.06 Maori Party’s TV abbreviation is MRI, which reminds me of House MD.

9.09 Jenny Shipley is sporting a Suzanne Prentice hairdo. Mum says she looks like Herman Munster. This is what election night is all about.

9.12 Vox pops on TV1 – two guys say they’re not voting Labour because it’s “time for some change”, just like they did in America. What? There is no Ministry of Change or select committees on change. Only numbnuts vote on change for change’s sake.

9.18 Mum observes “you don’t see that swing-o-meter thing any more.” Dad: “That’s because it doesn’t work any more.”

9.21 Jeremy Wells is in Gore, getting all the locals to say ‘Working For Families’ with their Southland R. Comedy gold!

9.30 “The big boobs do have an impact” – J Shipley.

9.31 Oh, whoops, I mean “The big booths do have an impact” – J Shipley.

9.35 Auckland Central, Wellington Central and Christchurch Central are neck-and-neck Labour and National. Damn urbanites.

9.41 Tariana Turia sounds completely miserable, and yet the Maori Party aren’t doing too badly.

9.46 “A lot of National’s policies are very socialist” – my dad. Shh! Don’t tell Sarah Palin!

9.49 TVNZ 7’s Greg Boyed notes that Helen hasn’t come out of her house. What is he expecting? “Hello, Greg. Would you like to come in for some scones? Peter’s just baked a fresh batch.”

9.51 Again, I am so glad I’m not in the Epsom electorate any more. Though it is nice to see that the good people of Epsom understand how MMP works.

10.05 Simon Dallow: “As a proud bogan myself…” Oh, Simon.

10.06 It’s that fun game when you mentally tally up the bar charts and come up with potential coalitions.

10.10 “Nationoow usn’t going to count ut’s chuckuns” – Boow Unglush.

10.13 UNF leader Peter Dunne is back. Oh, thank you so much, Churton Park.

10.14 Winston is about to make a speech. Will it be as good as McCain’s?

10.16 Oh, things are going to be tough and unfortunately they’re not going to have Winston with them to get through their tough times, etc.

10.17 New Zealand was “once the greatest country on earth”. Not sure what we currently are. Does not having Winston as an MP now mean NZ is no longer great?

10.20 Ooh, the evil meeja scum killed Winston’s dream! Boo!

10.29 Judith Tizard has lost Auckland Central. Interesting – boundaries have changed but I hear Tizard hasn’t been working well. Geeks remember the copyright law thingy!

10.30 In Tauranga, the evil meeja scum are trying to interview Winston, but Winston ain’t having none of that, etc.

10.32 Michelle Boag’s jacket is the same colour as the set’s background, making her head look like it’s floating in space.

10.35 Observation: Even though National has a lot of the same of guys from the ’90s, they do have a lot of younger, new people. But Labour’s stuck with a lot of the same old faces.

10.37 Grant Robertson wins Wellington Central! Hoorah! I met him a few months ago and was impressed. I’m really happy to have him as a local MP, and I think he’s a great asset for the Labour Party.

10.41 Potential bonus with a right-wing government: material for leftie satirists, a la The Daily Show?

10.47 Interesting – TV1 panel speculates that anti-kid-hitting bill turned some voters off Labour. Yet National have no plans to overturn it.

10.51 John Key’s “opulent house” looks like a tszujed up leaky home. Whereas Helen has a humble villa.

10.55 When did “indicator seats” become “bellweather seats”? What is “bellweather”?

10.56 Ah, it’s spelt bellwether. Wikipedia sez: “The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading its flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be perceived by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.” Eeeee!

10.57 It looks like Helen’s made The Phone Call. She’s going to make her speech soon.

10.59 Dad is going to bed now. “What they do tonight isn’t important. It’s what they do next week and next year, and that’s not going to have anything to do with what they say their policies are.”

11.01 National’s HQ is at Sky City – go the pokies!

11.05 “The controversial Sir Roger Douglas”. Old Great-Uncle Roger gets wheeled out of the basement. Maybe.

11.06 Peter Dunne’s hair: it’s so solid.

11.13 Yawn. It’s all waiting now. I wonder if John Key wants an Obamaesque speech.

11.15 Helen’s on her way to her people. Oh, Helen!

11.23 During TV1 ad breaks, TVNZ 7 runs mini docos about NZ election history. The coverage of the first MMP election showed a youthful Winston and vox pops with people wearing giant ’90s-style glasses. Man, that was so long ago!

11.21 Helen’s election hall is painted blue. Oh dear!

11.23 Helen had better make a good speech.

11.25 Helen briefly thanks John and accepts “responsibility for the result”. Oh, so perhaps it’s time for her to step down?

11.30 Helen’s standing down!

11.31 It seems inevitable. She’s had a good long time as leader and it makes sense that someone else step in now. But who?

11.33 I keep thinking John Key’s wife is called Brotown.

11.40 Labour new leader – will it be a pakeha male?

11.42 Mt Albert will have a more dedicated MP.

11.45 Wide shot of National Party party – dudes in suits with booze.

11.47 Some reporter is attempting to interview Key. She asks him how he feels. “It feels great, but…” But what? BUT WHAT, MR KEY?

11.48 Bro, nah.

11.49 What is that horrible song playing at the NP party?

11.50 Change has won! Yeah, all your 10c and 20c coins are in charge now!

11.52 “You’ve come to shear our beliefs.” Go Key’s Kiwi vowels!

11.53 Personal anecdote time. It’s all about personal responsibility.

11.54 How come when he’s smiling – and presumedly when he’s genuinely happy – his smile looks fake?

11.55 Wait, did he just mention “Kiwi ingenuity” with utter glee? Is it the 1980s?

11.55 We must use our size to our advantage, “to be nimble, sure-footed and flexible.” And tiny-handed? That too?

11.56 Light shining on Key’s forehead produces two shiny spots that are curved like horns. OMG

11.57 John thanks Helen. Some audience members applaud, others jeer. Like the Republican supporters booed Obama?

11.58 John confirms it’ll be a Nat-Act-Unf love triangle.

11.59 And a “willingness to engage in dialogue” with the Maori Party. Wait, “willingness to engage in dialogue”? Dude, you’re not an investment banker any more.

12.00 Boow Unglish is “in Gore and I know they know how to have a good time there.” Did a professional speechwriter write that? If so, they should be fired. If not, one should be hired.

12.01 Pronounces Otaki as “Oh tacky”. Oh, tacky!

12.04 Really underwhelming speech. It didn’t offer much inspiration, other than “Stuff is quite good now but it’s going to get more awesome!!!!”

12.05 I love the My Chemical Romance look Key’s daughter is rocking. It’s very un-traditional-National!

12.07 The main thing that seems to have been decided – someone different is Prime Minister. Who cares wot his policies are?

12.10 I should go to bed now. Congratulations to my new MP, Grant Robertson! Night-night!

On dreams coming true

The first time I heard of Barack Obama, I had three thoughts about him:

  1. That as he was a dirty filthy chain-smoker, I had no respect for him.
  2. That as I couldn’t relate to the “Obama Girl” video, he was obviously not up my alley.
  3. That there was no way a guy with the middle name Hussein and with a surname one letter different from Osama would get elected president of the United States.

But 1) he quit, 2) everyone has crazy fans, and 3) oh, so I was totally wrong about that one.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008. One of my workmates and I were in his car, driving along Victoria Street, towards Taranaki Street. He turned on Radio NZ National. Their US election coverage was playing. It was mentioned that Obama had reached over 270 electoral college votes and was therefore going to be the president-elect. We both said woo-hoo and continued on to our destination, the American Ambassador’s election party.

Me and the president-elect

At the Michael Fowler Centre, the room was full of celebration and excitement. It was very American, with cardboard cutouts of McCain and Obama, and paddles, badges and stickers for both Democrats and Republicans – though it should be noted that while the McCain/Palin badge bowl was still quite full, the Obama/Biden bowl was nearly empty.

CNN’s election coverage was playing on a projector. McCain made his speech and the room was quiet for it. It was so gracious and humble, and I got that horrible feeling that, dammit, if he’d won the Republican nomination in 2000, things would have been so much better.

Before I went to the party, I joked that I hoped they’d be serving hotdogs. Well, they did – mini gourmet hotdogs and hamburgers. Slowly I started to realise a feeling was coming back; something I hadn’t felt for years – America was OK. America was slowly moving back to being a cool country.

Then Barack Obama made his speech; the speech. The room feel silent and everyone listened. It was awesome. People were crying and sniffling a little.

History

The bit that got me was when he thanked his wife, Michelle. I’d never fully got the way the president’s wife is called the First Lady and gets special reverence of her own, but I suddenly realised. Being the wife of a president would be so hard. You’d almost lose party of your identity and be forced into a job that you virtually couldn’t quit. The whole ‘first lady’ thing is a small compensation for all the crap they have to put up with.

I remember in the ’90s, when I was doing the angsty Generation X bullshit, we used to wail that we’d never had a definitive moment that united the generation, so we were all messed up, etc. Then September 11 happened, and it was like, “Oh, you got something – happy now?” Well, now the Obama win feels like another definitive moment in history that’s brought everyone together in a good good way.

I’d been feeling a little gloomy about the future, but now it feels like that even though things might be tough in the future, there is going to be a future that we will be able to enjoy.

After the party my workmate and I went on to the Backbencher pub for the filming of Back Benches (oh, like anyone was watching!). Just after 9, the Guy Fawkes Day fireworks display started. We ran to the end of Kate Sheppard Place and discovered a magnificent view of the fireworks erupting in the night sky. And that’s a good ending to a memorable night.

Electiondog!

Oh, there’s that other election thing going on. Uh, New Zealand, right?

It’s difficult having the New Zealand election happening at the same time as the US election because it makes the NZ one look like a school trustees election.

I’m a little disturbed by the televised debates that have viewer-submitted video questions. Most of them seem to be badly lit, resulting in a shadowy figure, making it seem like most of the viewers were in witness protection and/or internet nutters.

It’s harder not having a clear-cut choice like in the US election. There are no heroes and villains. You have to, like, actually read up on policies and make informed decisions. Though that’s actually not going to stop all those people who are voting National solely because they think Labour have been in government long enough and they think it’s time someone else had a turn, thank you.

But it’s so much nicer being in the Wellington Central electorate than being in Epsom, where things were skewed by the funny little goblin-man in the yellow coat. Now I can actually vote for the candidate I want to vote for, knowing that he’d make an excellent MP.

So to the polling booth tomorrow I go, where I shall wield my orange marker pen of democracy, and hopefully the government that comes out of it will be a good one.

A response

A reponse from the executive assistant to Richard Worth, my local MP, in response to my query about the mysterious phone call I received from the person who was trying to convince me that National wanted me to vote for the ACT candidate in Epsom:

MESSAGE FROM RICHARD WORTH
MP for Epsom and Shadow Minister for Justice & Attorney General

Robyn
The short answer is don’t split your vote. The reasons are:
* In Epsom the ACT candidate was polling 14.8% of the candidate vote on 17 July. That has now dropped. Voting for the ACT candidate simply divides the centre-right vote.
* ACT is polling well below the 5% threshold to secure a place in Parliament. If ACT fails to get 5% of the party vote the votes are redistributed in the proportion of the parties which are successful. So some of the redistributed votes go to Labour.
* Voters are asked to TICK NATIONAL TWICE to change the Government.

The ACT candidate is running an argument that National needs him to win Epsom. That is wrong and is part of a campaign of mischief.

Thank you very much for bringing this phone call to my notice – Richard

Judy Young
Executive Assistant
Dr Richard Worth MP for Epsom

Ok, I have a headache.

Tell it like it is

I’ve just emailed my local MP. I’ve never done this before, but I just received a phone call from a strange lady who was very strongly suggesting that National wanted Epsom voters to not vote for the Epsom candidate and instead vote for ACT candidate (and leader) Rodney Hide so that ACT could join National in government.

At the start of the phone call she said she represented a group of people who wanted to see National elected government, but after the “vote Rodney” bit I got a bit suspicious and asked if she was really an ACT supporter. She sounded fake surprised when I reminded her she’d originally said she was pro-National.

She wanted me to answer some questions, but I told her that I didn’t trust her and didn’t feel comfortable answering her questions.

It probably helps that I had recently had the phone call from the nice Digipoll lady who was completely upfront about everything, so I knew that this strange woman’s evasiveness was a sign that she was hiding something.

So I’ve emailed my local MP asking him if National wants people to vote for ACT, or if that woman was insane in the membrane.

It wasn’t like this at the last election.