Dunedin Election Blog
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Last Post . . . for a while anyway
Now the election is over, I'll be returning to my general Victor Billot blog.

I'm going to keep this Dunedin election blog alive though: who knows, there might even be another election sometime.

I'll keep mixing in the political posts in my VB blog, however I thought I would just fill people in on where things are at.

The Alliance didn't poll well on Saturday night: in fact very low. The main reason I think is that a lot of those who agreed with our ideas chose to support Labour/Greens: in a sense, the election was a vote against National more than an uncritical vote for Labour.

Also the Alliance has had a bumpy ride over the last few years, with some bad decisions taken by former leaders. Now, despite all the hassles, I am actually quite happy with the party we have. There is a range of views, but we seem to be a party that has a strong member-driven organization. The party is well run by volunteers.

The Alliance is the voice of the principled left in New Zealand.

A large team helped out on the campaign in Dunedin: we actually got extensive media coverage and overcame the view that we were no longer around. A note of thanks to all the local crew who did the volunteer work:
Julie, Chris, Eunice and Harry, Marvin, Robert G., Kay, Jim, Bob and Jean, Les, Andrew W., Norm and the rest of the Oamaru crew, Dave M., Mark Baxter, Sam M., Gail and Keith, Sandy, Jen, Andrew G., Sheri H. and Mark M. at Port Chalmers, Ryan, David T. for the ute, Jimmy, Don, the International Socialists, OUSA and OPSA for inviting us to the forums, the Mystirtron guys, the local journalists who gave us a fair go and fair coverage, the Maritime Union Port Chalmers branch for sponsoring me with a generous donation, the forum organizers who included us – CTU, Forest and Bird, Church Groups amongst others. Hope I haven't forgotten anyone – I will have.

If anyone would like more information about where we are going from here on in, please get in touch via my website.

Saturday, September 17, 2005
11pm on the big night
Just past 11pm on election night and the result is very close. Looks like Labour have the numbers but who knows. A hijacked plane threatened to fly into the Sky Tower and crashed into Auckland harbour. Jenny Shipley appeared on TV with chunky black specs, a leopard skin coat, and purple hair. It has been another strange evening.

I am proud to say I think I may have got the highest number of electorate votes of any Alliance candidate (251) in Dunedin North. Chris Ford came second for the electorate vote in NZ with 177.

The Alliance vote was tiny nationally. This is not surprising; with all the talk of tactical voting I think many of our voters went to Labour and Greens.

We've been having a small party round at my parents which has seen the local team come round for a few drinks to watch the fun. Thanks to Julie, Eunice, Harry, Chris, Kay, Marvin, Robert, Gail, Keith, David, Elaine, and the students from Mystertron Logan, Dan and David. As Logan said, a lot more people agree with our ideas than voted for us, simply because of the close election.

Good on all the team for keeping the voice of the true left alive. The Alliance was the only party to highlight casualization, the need for public control of electricity, and free education.

The next year will be a very interesting time. Bird flu, the collapse of the American economy, or oil hitting $9000 a barrel: whoever gets to be Government will be dealing with some very strange currents. All the more need for a principled voice on the left.

Friday, September 16, 2005
And just a few final words . . .
The last few days have gone in something of a blur as the last newsletters are delivered and final meetings are held.

Today was largely concentrated on ensuring all the signs came down on time around town; small teams from all parties were to be seen around town retrieving their signage, or at least that which had survived the vandal attacks.

After tomorrow, I'll probably take the opportunity to make some analysis of the results and where things are heading, before moving back to my non-election blog.

Just a few thoughts before the Big Day:

So many things about this election have been defined by the right wing. The left is still in conservative mode, and this approach over the last six years has made us vulnerable to exactly the type of appeal to mindless, short term greed that the right thrives on. We need to start setting the agenda: people and planet, not corporate profits.

The only vote that is "wasted" is a vote wasted on something you don't believe in.

Let's vote for each other, for justice, democracy, respect and tolerance for all. Let's vote for a positive future. Let's take back the world off the greedheads and give it back to the rest of us who have to live in the mess they're creating.

See you at the polling booth.

Thursday, September 15, 2005
TV story on Dunedin North electorate
Dunedin North electorate story on Channel 9 here

It has an interesting shot of me waving my arms behind the Progressive candidate, which Meteria Turei seems to find funny. But that's about as mean as politics gets in friendly old Dunedin.

Media guerilla
You can see Dr Cullen being haunted by an Alliance sign (carried by myself) on Channel 9

Also today at 10.45 I will be on Radio One – check out the live stream here.

Not forgetting the last forum at Otago University at 12.30 today at the University Union – the small parties faceoff.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005
It's getting close to the line, the pressure is on and the campaign is hotting up.

Actually, around Dunedin I've been surprised at the quietness of meetings and appearances by politicians. Today at Otago University a mild mannered crowd enjoyed a mild mannered speech by Dr Cullen, which I felt dutybound to razz up a little bit with some questions. And I managed to get on Channel 9 news apparently.

A union-organized forum tonight saw National MP Katherine Rich not turn up (surprise!). As a result poor old Mark Peters got a roasting from the freezing workers about United Future's policies as he was the next best thing. Mind you, United's policies are right wing, and their weasly deal cutting approach is no longer getting the desired response from the punters. My advice to Mark is next election, try to understand that what is wrecking the family is the capitalist free market system, not social engineering.

Here is a photo of life on the campaign trail, talking to the students at Otago University.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
University Forum Thursday – last chance to hear it live
Confirmed speakers for Thursday 15 September 12.30pm at the Otago University Union are:

Victor Billot (Alliance)
James Boyack (Progresive)
Alan Heward (New Zealand First)
Willy Martin (Act)
Mark Peters (United First)
Metiria Turei (Greens)
Bob Warren (Demcrats for Social Credit)

The general topic will be the part your party will play in
the new government, what your policy priorities will be and
who you'd be prepared to work with to achieve them. There'll
be questions from the audience too, which could be on
anything and everything.

Monday, September 12, 2005
If 100 000 people realized this, then life would never be the same again . . . it would be very much better.
Excerpt from an email received today from an overseas voter enrolled in Dunedin North:

"On Politics: I have to admit, I had (until recently) been thinking of voting for Hodgson again, but your email has helped solidify my choice against him. I didn't want to 'waste' my vote (you know what I mean) by voting further left than I think the electorate will go, but a light just dawned on me: that is exactly what I am supposed to think!

I AM left. So I am bloody-well gunna vote left. Stuff them.

I respect and thank you for getting back to me, and for your committed and eloquent ideals."

North Poll
Not forgetting the result of the Critic non-scientific poll for Dunedin North

I don't believe in polls anyway.

Media mayhem part 17
Notorious Dunedin tabloid Critic have run their own candidate reviews for Dunedin North this week.

And local TV station Channel 9 is running candidate forums at 4.45pm today which Chris Ford and myself are appearing on.

Sunday, September 11, 2005
Weekend update
The weekend has been busy with the final phase of leafletting. In Dunedin North, a number of helpers and supporters have lent a hand . . . thanks again all. As a result we have managed to cover a large area on a tight budget.

Last Thursday I attended a small but well organized forum at the Knox Church focussing on social issues, which included an excellent lunch. The lunch was free and I noticed both the National and ACT candidates enjoying it, so don't believe them when they say there is no free lunch.

On Friday I had a bit of light entertainment at the Otago Polytech quiz night, which was being run as a fundraiser for the International Socialists. A good turnout and top marks to QuestionMeister Mark Baxter and Andrew Tait, who showed an unusual flair for showmanship during the prize raffles – perhaps the Selwyn Toogood of the new Left?

Today Sunday I attended a rather tame candidates "debate" at the University, organized by National Radio. The debate was actually between Kim Hill and each of the candidates . . . personally, I think she'd make an OK Prime Minister, and she certainly had the edge on any of the other contenders.

A brief rundown:

Brian Donnelly (NZ First): Winston Peters learned more from his mentor Muldoon than his politics. He also picked up the trait of surrounding yourself with grey characters who cannot challenge you. The word mediocre may be too harsh, but if Winston goes, then his tribe of grey characters will evaporate with him. Cannot actually remember anything he said except that they were "between Labour and National." Obviously it is going to be a tight squeeze with United Future in that budgie cage.

Deborah Coddington (ACT): A stylishly dressed and gleaming eyed fanatic, Debs warmed up the crowd by telling them "the market will provide." Obviously she hasn't been following Hurricane Katrina. Soon to join fellow ACTors such as the poison dwarf Rodney Hide and pinstriped squatocrat of the High Country Gerry Eckhoff back at the "grassroots" of politics.

Trevor Mallard (Labour): Trev followed the script but caused some concern with his unbuttoned shirt. Tried hard to sound left wing enough for the PPTA members in the audience, but right wing enough to reassure the upper classes their children will continued to be subsidized in elitist private schools to give them the extra edge against the nobodies. Would like to "do more" to help the student debt problem – as long as it doens't involve raising taxes on millionaires.

Meteria Turei (Greens): Got the most audience support and seemed more focussed than usual. I was a little concerned as she was quoting my speech from the last meeting I was at, but as a socialist I am happy to share my ideas for free. But the Greens never mention how they are going to pay for it. Would their support wilt like overcooked green spinach if the well-heeled sector of environmental crusaders had to front up with the higher tax?

Bill English (National): Bill was wearing his unusual "all grey" combination and seems like a man going through the motions. The motions of what is hard to say – drowning? He seems to lack punch. However he occasionally makes a dry observation that overcomes complete inertia.
Seemed a little annoyed about some PPTA ad that apparently paints him as being responsible for a beaten woman? I haven't seen it so can't comment.

Bernie Ogilvy (United): I cannot say anything about United that was not said by T.S. Eliot in his famous poem of 1925 "The Hollow Men":

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.

Monte Ohia (Maori Party): Monte was a genial character who filled the room with goodwill and a winning smile. However, it was patently obvious he had no policies. Told the audience that it would have been better if there were no student loans. As the Maori Party support lowering corporate taxes, how they are going to fix the problem will be interesting to see. Perhaps with goodwill and a winning smile.

I was interested to hear the Progressive person talk about their support for free education. I wonder how they are going to achieve this when they can't be seen to disagree with their "coalition partner" Labour. Perhaps as their local candidate James told me, it will be done by "playing the game" and with Jim "having a word in Helen's ear at the cabinet table." Or perhaps it will come from people supporting the Alliance Party, which has principles?

However for much of the debate I was watching Kim Hill's strange body language and waving hand movements. After the debate we walked back to the car and saw Bill English looking lost and standing alone with his briefcase and cellphone in the middle of the carpark. I thought he would look much better with a loyal dog and a swanndri standing in a paddock near Lumsden. I think he would also look happier.

Thursday, September 08, 2005
Some more coverage in Otago Daily Times online
Chris Ford

Victor Billot

Writeup in ODT
Some coverage in the Otago Daily Times . . .

Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Candidates Forum TOMORROW
12.15pm Knox Church, George Street, Dunedin, Thursday 8 September 2005

Also a Newstalk ZB pre-recorded radio spot on in Dunedin between 11 and 12 noon for local listeners . . .

and thanks to Marvin for the Hills AM interview the other day.

A few surprises in Maori Hill
Some good coverage in the Otago Daily Times in the last couple of days.

The candidates meeting at Maori Hill Hall last night was a surprise,
this is a well-off neighbourhood and I was expecting a tough crowd,
however it was the National and ACT candidates who got heckled by the

To quote a few excerpts from the ODT report:

"There was little appetite for tax cuts among those who went to hear
a meet the candidates forum at the Maori Hill Community Centre last
night . . .
The meeting reached a crescendo every time Alliance Party candidate
Victor Billot rose to speak, with his booming delivery apparently
designed to reach some way down Drivers Road from the Highgate
Venue . . . speaking first, he noted the way in which the poor of New
Orleans had apparently been abandoned following Hurricane Katrina.
'You have to ask yourself, why were they left there? They had no
money, that's why' he said. Some of the parties on the stage wanted
to take New Zealand the same way, he said.
Taking up that theme later, a member of the audience asked Mrs Rich
whether her party would cut the domestic purposes benefit if in power.
Mrs Rich said it would not."

A brief review of other candidates:

Pete Hodgson (Labour): Getting progressively more grumpy, probably because of his earlier involvement in a fracas with some lunatic fundamentalist at Otago University during Helen's photo op. Time to turn on the charm offensive, Pete!

Katherine Rich (National): Where are her supporters? Looking more and more ratty as every meeting she is met with a barrage of heckles and jeers. Still opens every meeting by telling us she has "gained a reputation, I am told, as an effective local MP."
The head prefect mannerisms aren't going down well though and she left immediately after the meeting with a small group of Nats, it looked like a defeated Sith Lord abandoning ship with a bunch of imperial troopers. The positive "winner" vibe is beginning to crack.

ACT guy: Some stand in from Auckland, hopefully nothing too serious has happened to their local accident prone candidate Willie Martin. The new guy was a real case study, dressed like Tom Cruise in Top Gun, and came across as a bit of a sociopath. Unlike Willie, he wasn't rattled by the hostile crowd. I called him a zombie, but he didn't seem to mind that either, so a point for keeping cool under heavy fire.

Brent Daglish (Destiny): Brent has followed my recent advice in this blog and now appears in a sober and stylish grey suit, having abandoned the zany red tie and black shirt look. Continues to be generally friendly although briefly lectured me that if I kept on disrespecting his spiritual leaders, he would "bite back."
I must wear some heavy woollen garments to the next meeting.

Mark Peters (United) was briefly astonished when asked if he would change policies if his party went in with National or Labour. I saved him by saying I would go into coalition with him and shook his hand. The audience laughed and hopefully Mark hasn't lost too much sleep thinking he has signed a coalition deal with the socialists.

Alan the NZ First candidate is apparently an ex-cop, which is disturbing considering he makes thinly veiled racist comments about something called the "Bro-ro-cracy" at every meeting. However he does have a very good understanding of what a load of hogwash "free trade" is. I had an interesting conversation with him after the meeting about "leadership." He was very big on it. What will he do when his leader is trounced in the election? Who will he look up to then? I must ask him at the next meeting.

Phillippa Jamieson (Greens) gave one of her best speeches so far, especially in defence of progressive taxes.

Earlier in the day I met the local Progressive candidate, an earnest young chap by the name of James. He kept on telling me I had to "play the game." I think he was talking about politics, because there weren't any Ludo sets around. He did tell me that the Progressive's had two members in Dunedin. Hopefully Jim "Get things done with my enormous and embarrassing 67 year old ego" Anderton won't sack him for divulging the secret Progressive masterplan to "get things done."
He also let me in on the secret of how Jim Anderton gets things done – it's because he gets to have a "word in the ear" of Helen Clark at cabinet meetings. I asked young James what "Get Things Done Jim" had actually got done in the last three years, upon which he walked off looking depressed.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Socialist candidate speaks at Maori Hill
I am speaking tonight at a "Meet the Candidates" evening in the Maori Hill Community Centre, 607 Highgate, Dunedin at 7.30 p.m. on Tuesday 06 September, 2005.

Could be a good one!

No questions please – this is a photo opportunity

Helen Clark spoke at the University today, to a large and docile crowd.

I was one of the only people who asked her a question she didn't like answering – about the fact that many people, especially the elderly and low income families, have trouble paying their power bill. Why won't Labour take back the power into public ownership?

Could all the big talk about social justice just be so much election PR?

As you will see from the photo above it was a pretty big crowd – but fairly uncommitted, despite the fact the Labour Party had filled about twenty thousand balloons, to fit in with the hot air theme.

What has happened to today's students that they will regard cutting the interest (but keeping user pays education) as somehow "radical"? Is it because we've been trained after a generation to accept the unacceptable, and to allow ourselves to be gulled by agenda-setting rulers?

Even the journalists were saying what a flat crowd it was. One said to me, isn't it strange how the only questions were from the left? (I think he was referring to me).

No sign of National, a few ACT dudes with their bad yellow banner . . . bad colour choice, especially next to the pale and spotted complexions of the ACT boys.

I talked to a few people in the crowd, but apart from the celebrity factor there didn't seem to be a huge amount of interest in the actual election or politics itself.

Meanwhile a gaggle of press gallery journalists waited patiently and eventually filed up like a row of dutiful ducklings after the PM.

What a laugh!

Saturday, September 03, 2005
New Orleans
Like many people, I have been following the disaster in New Orleans with horror and amazement.

I just read a report on The Guardian where a UK reporter is on the scene as thousands of local people are still trapped and in many cases seriously ill.

This is in a nation which is spending $5 billion plus a month in running a "war" in the Middle East with the most advanced technologies and most well resourced military in the world.

It is becoming apparent that US President George W. Bush is completely out of his league. His speech on the disaster was appalling and makes disturbing viewing. Don't take my word for it – see the original at the White House website.

This is what the New York Times said in an editorial on the subject:
"George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end."

I agree with the New York Times in this case.

The disaster has been made far worse by the fact that under the "leadership" of a self-interested, arrogant elite, it is the poor, the old and the sick – and in this case - the black – who have been left without help.

It is a disgrace that such a thing could happen in the world's wealthiest country.

Looking at some local photos by people on the ground there is disturbing and shocking.

All the authorities can do is talk about "shoot to kill." They represent a sick system.

They must go – and their New Zealand equivalents must not be allowed to take power here.

Guest candidate review
There was a nuclear free forum late last month that I never got a chance to do a review on . . . but that's OK because Bren has done a review for us.

Let's keep those candidate reviews coming. Let's see if we can collapse the polls and shock the pundits by starting a BLOG REVOLUTION.

Friday, September 02, 2005
Candidate Reviews Part Three
The campaign trail has begun to get crowded. I haven't had a chance to comment on some of the recent meetings I've attended and spoken at. So here are some more reviews of my fellow candidates that I make after sitting through several of their speeches – once again I don't review myself, in the interests of fairness.

(If you would like to email me a review, please do so!)

Willie Martin (ACT): Willie has been turning up at most meetings, but his campaign has been dogged by disaster. At one meeting, he failed to show because his car broke down. Then at the next meeting he showed up with a broken arm. However to his credit he has battled on. However he has failed to take my previous advice on this blog.
He has the bad habit of making strong sounding statements like "We're gonna get tough on crime!"
Unfortunately whenever he gets heckled, he breaks down in confusion and starts whimpering.
Quote of the week: "We believe people should be free to do whatever they want to do!" (Long silence). "Within the law of course!"
(Cue audience laughter).
Style: 2 points for carrying on in the face of disaster, oblivion and hostile crowds. Content: Minus three. The ACT party is simply mean.

Katherine Rich (National): Katherine has started turning up at a few meetings for a change. She spends her entire speech talking about what a hard working local MP she is, and avoids discussing anything to do with National Party policies. Possibly this is because of the shouts, catcalls and boos that result whenever she mentions them.
I have the feeling she doesn't want National to win, so she can replace Don Brash when he gets the sack, and become New Zealand's Margaret Thatcher. Scarey thought.
Style: 3 points for her bland, well-trained professionalism. Content: No rating, as no content.

Mark Peters (United): Mark is a good bloke, and he hasn't mentioned social engineering once since I ripped into his speech at an earlier meeting. He has the charming habit of spending much of his speeches saying nice things about the other candidates, and often asks for their approval or comments. He seems to have a weak grasp of party policy and reads from notes. He is just too nice for politics. I think he has probably realized that United are a waste of time and is just going through the motions because of a misguided sense of loyalty.
Style: public speaking 1 point for trying. In person, six points for being a good bloke. Content: 1 point for bringing along the entire one hundred page policy statement and reading it in a monotone

Pete Hodgson (Labour): Pete can only handle speaking for these public meetings for about an hour until he cracks and starts snarling at the other candidates and audience. He ended last night by snarling into Willie Martin and it was like watching a crazed ferret shred a helpless rabbit. His political personality type seems to be technocrat with a subtext of Hannibal Lecter.
I have picked up a few standard Pete-isms that he will need to watch. One is saying "but wait there's more!" (he doesn't sound enthusiastic when he says it) and the other is accusing questioners of being ignorant ("our policy is great blah blah . . . why didn't you know that?")
Style: seems ill at ease, can be patronising and grumpy. 3 points for being able to string a sentence together unlike many other candidates. Content: 6 points for knowing his stuff.

Phillippa Jamieson (Green): Phillippa is the original Green. She is as Green as you get. If you wanted to select a person who typefies the Green Party in human form, it is her. She works on organic farms. Her email address includes the name "Ecowitch." She wears a purple denim jacket and works as a freelance writer.
She usually makes a good fist of it, but last night fell down on the very simple and important question, where is the money coming from?
Either she got flustered or genuinely didn't know, but she couldn't answer. Perhaps it is because the Greens don't want to have to tell their liberal, middle class voters they are going to have to pay more tax?
Style: 7 points, because she rang me up and let me know when the meeting was on. Thanks Phillippa!
Content: 5 points. Phillippa is well versed in all Green policies from composting toilets to peak oil, but she needs to read the Green tax policy and memorize.

Short reviews:

Robert Wansink (Restore all things in Christ Party): This guy is amazing. He told the meeting the other night that all the other candidates represented the anti-Christ and that if we did not vote for him we would burn in hell for eternity.
Just for emphasis he added: "And eternity is a very long time."
A very well read fanatic, Robert quotes Thomas Aquinas and Plato as well as the good book.

Brent Daglish (Destiny): Brent is most put out by the fact that there is a even more impressive fundamentalist running against him in the form of Robert. Brent must be the classic Destiny supporter – a working class guy who has been sucked into some weird cult/business franchise.
Brent continues to tell other candidates that we basically all believe the same thing, which is wishful thinking. Like most fundamentalists, he is uneasy when challenged in a public forum to justify his beliefs.
He also keeps on going on about "unlimited wealth creation". I never read that in the Bible. I did read "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19:24.)
(I'm an atheist by the way.)
Style: Brent gets a generous 5 points for fronting up and speaking well (apart from the time he told the audience at St Marys Church that one of the Ten Commandments was "Thou shall not shag thy neighbours wife!" – way to go Brent!)
Also he has this great black shirt and red tie combination, that makes him look a bit like Bob Geldof in Pink Floyd's "The Wall". Bogan high fashion in 2005. Content: No rating, I hate the Destiny Church, their phoney moralism, their unlimited wealth creation for that Elvis impersonating self-appointed Ayatollah Brian "Hair Gel" Tamaki, and their desire to return us to some kind of dark ages where gays are burnt at the stake, etc.

Alan someone or another (New Zealand First): Quite a nice guy apart from when he starts saying things like the "Bro-roc-cracy" and banging on about the immigrants who are apparently responsible for everything bad in the world. God I hate New Zealand First. What a pack of mean-minded, narrow, bores. The spirit of Rob Muldoon lives on, sadly.

That's it for now. Any reviews on my own campaign will be gladly received.

Thursday, September 01, 2005
Another candidates meeting tonight – Opoho.
I will be attending the following candidates meeting tonight:

Meet the Candidates Meeting
Opoho Presbyterian Church
Thursday 1 Sept, 7.30 pm
5 minute addresses from each candidate, followed by questions from the

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