Social media gurus

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

Like at a senior MP sharing a story about how the leader is a liability…

10564820_10152078546171887_1391910779_nOr a Labour candidate sharing a graphic asking people to Party Vote Green…

2014-07-17 15_18_06-Tautoko! He Wai-ora…He Wai-rua…He Wai-Māori! - Rawiri Waititi for Waiariki

Scary that 26 of Rawiri’s fan’s liked the Party Vote Green message!


Look, I know Labour’s electoral strategy relies heavily on hashtags, but please make that the last time anyone uses #ElectoralAct1993.



#Labour2041? As I said, sometimes you just have to laugh.

Seriously though, from what I’ve been told, an 8 page social media guidebook has been circulated to caucus and candidates. I have no idea if it covers this sort of stuff or not. But regardless, someone needs to be cracking some heads together (that Rawiri post has now been online for three days) and telling candidates that these posts need to come down, and not happen again. Like I said yesterday, when Labour are struggling to get their message out at all, they shouldn’t allow candidates (or the leader) to create distractions.

How not to release policy

NZ Labour’s woes are well documented. The latest round of polls – both with Labour sub 25, are frankly, disastrous. On these numbers Labour will be lucky to get deputy leader David Parker re-elected, and the prospect of any new list MPs just looks like a fantasy.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. From my distant perspective, it looks like Labour is running some excellent on the ground campaigns. Some of the MPs look like they’re making great visits (David Shearer and Chris Hipkins seem to have had a really sucessful visit through the regional North Island). Kelvin Davis is getting good media from his work helping flood victims in his electorate.  I’ve heard that some electorates are smashing their voter contact targets. The fact that they’ve even managed to agree to targets at all amazes me (I have previously sat in a Labour meeting where the idea of targets was quite literally dismissed as “boss talk”).

And as Phil Quin pointed out on the Q+A panel the other week, Labour do have some very good policy positions. Chris Hipkins really needs to be commended for the work he continues to do with education – their school donation and class size policies are really solid vote winners.

Unfortunately, Labour seems to have since dropped them like a lead balloon.

Using Facebook as a sample of Labour’s external comms*, let’s have a look at what they’ve done with the education announcements…

2 July – Labour announce their school donation policy with a nice graphic on Facebook. Lovely stuff.

3 July – Cunliffe posts a story about how the PPTA back’s their policy. Nice touch.

5 July – Saturday of party congress. Cunliffe announces iPad for every child policy with another nice Facebook graphic.

6 July – Sunday of party congress. Leader’s keynote speech. Presumably in the speech Cunliffe announces their major policy of employing 2000 new teachers to reduce class sizes. But you wouldn’t know that from his Facebook page which stays completely silent on the matter.

7 July – David Cunliffe is awkwardly holding a sausage.


8 July – David Cunliffe meets the Japanese Prime Minister. Does he talk about education? We’ll never know.

10 July – A week after the key note speech a video of it is posted online. Without any mention of the policy. You have to watch the 36 minute video to discover that Labour wants to reduce class sizes.

10 July – Chris Hipkins launches Labour’s excellent education manifesto. It’s a beautiful document that really easily sets out some great policy. Does Cunliffe or the Labour Party mention it? Nope.

Number of mentions of Labour’s education policies after they’re announced: 0. Number of times David Cunliffe has mentioned that they are reducing class sizes on Facebook: 0.

Hell, it’s even depressing to look at a Facebook feed of all Labour candidates and party pages. The last time anyone from Labour talked about education was Grant Robertson three days ago.

Labour candidates should be told to post about it. They should be told to do a visit, then talk about how the education policy is relevant to that visit afterwards. People aren’t going to vote Labour because you have dunked yourself in a pool of icy water. They will vote Labour if they think that improving our kids’ education is worthwhile, and that Labour is the best party to deliver that. You have a good policy. Go out there and sell it!

In a week where Labour committed hundreds of millions of dollars to make worthwhile and significant changes to education, candidates should not be posting videos of ice water challenges. There are enough distractions from Labour’s core messages thanks to donations scandals, Kim Dotcom etc etc, Labour shouldn’t be using Facebook to create even more diversions.

And by totally going to ground and refusing to go out and sell Labour’s policy, David Cunliffe doesn’t even look like he wants Labour to win.


* Facebook certainly isn’t and shouldn’t be Labour’s only communication tool, but given they can easily use it to reach an audience of hundreds of thousands of people, they would be criminally negligent to ignore it. And sadly it doesn’t look like they’re picking up the slack here in any other medium.

Whip the whip.



An old Labour Party web address has been given a new lease of life on a Hamilton election billboard with a direct link to the Prime Minister’s Facebook page.

Hamilton West candidate Sue Moroney became the unwitting champion for the National Party when the recycled election sign she erected last Friday was altered and tied to the PM’s personal account.

Labour used the web address during the 2008 election campaign and Moroney had it obscured with masking tape for the run to the September 20 general election.

A few days later, the tape was removed from the sign, the domain registered and linked to Key’s Facebook page that showed pictures of last week’s meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Moroney, as chief whip, should know a lot better. Her name is being used to authorise Parliamentary Service funded materials, and if past precedent is anything to go by, she will be one of the senior members of they party’s publications committee, whose job it is to sign off on anything the party puts out.

Now she’s gone and got the party a shoddy newspaper story because she’s been sloppy and used six year old election hoardings (that have already lost her two elections). If I were a campaigner I’d be wondering why on earth she had anything to do with a committee designed to stop crap like this happening.

Her response is also textbook Moroney:

That’s a very bad look for the Prime Minister to be connected with that sort of politicking in Hamilton.

Um. It was probably a bored activist. Hell, Tim Macindoe is so relaxed about his contest in Hamilton West that he’s gone on an overseas holiday. Talk about an over-inflated ego that thinks that John Key is somehow connected to some grand campaign to undermine Sue Moroney. The only one at fault here is her.


How to lose friends and alienate people

2014-06-17 11_27_28-Launch_Flyer-1.pdf

A reader has sent me this gem from Colin Craig’s Conservative Party.

Now, I’m no genius, but if my entire political future rested on being gifted a safe seat by the National Party, I’m not sure I’d use my campaign launch as a vehicle to simply attack National:

Had a guts full of National’s abandoning their principles? Had enough of their arrogance? Had enough of them ignoring referendums; like the one on asset sales and the one on anti-smacking? Had enough of Bill English’s borrowing habits? Had enough of the two waka Government?

Come and meet the man who isn’t afraid to say ‘enough is enough’. Come and hear Colin Craig’s antidote to National’s toxic behaviour. Come and meet the man who will give our next Government some backbone.

Now look, I know Colin and his millions are the only asset the Conservatives have. But can they please get photo of him where he doesn’t look like he’s just killed someone?

NZ Facebook pages

As you may know, I have been trying to keep my 2014 candidates page up to date with not only the names of the candidates, but a link to their Facebook page if they have one.

If you’re reading this blog, there is a pretty good chance that you’re interested in New Zealand politics, but are probably also very partisan. So while you probably are interested in what some of the candidates on the other side to your team are doing, it’s unlikely you want to Like their pages.

One handy feature that Facebook has is you can create lists of pages, and you can simply follow the list. So, if you are as tragic as I am, you can now have the joy of following these lists I have created…

NZ Politics – Parties and Leaders

NZ Labour Party – 2014 candidates

NZ National Party – 2014 candidates

Hopefully people find these useful.

And thanks to those people who have been sending me info on selections, and candidate Facebook pages. Please keep them coming in!

A sensible move

If you’d done a focus group in 2007 about what people thought about John Key and National, I’m sure the word “aspiration” would have surfaced.

I haven’t got any of my own research to prove this, but it seems like a sensible way to frame yourself. There is certainly a place for negative messaging in politics, but a nice aspiration vibe about what you’re actually planning to do is a really good starting point.

Which is why I was so pleased to see this…

nzlabour target

Is an aspiration unemployment rate goal is not going to turn the economy around. The goal in of itself will of course not create any jobs. But it’s a great way to start a conversation about what Labour plans to do.

On its own it isn’t a game-changer, but it sure is a refreshing way of looking at things. Nice work.

Looking forward

I don’t think too many people would argue against a claim that 2014 hasn’t been a great success for Labour in New Zealand so far. The scene was set by a series of embarrassing gaffes from leader David Cunliffe, and all but the very far left seem to think Shane Jones’ shock departure is a bad look.

The last public opinion poll had Labour at only 28.5% – which is very alarming when you consider at this point in 2011 they were polling at around 34%.

But it is not all doom and gloom.

Despite how bleak Labour’s immediate prospects are looking, there are some amazing new candidates coming up through the ranks who seem to be running some excellent campaigns. Unless polling dramatically improves, few are likely to be elected, but it is a very healthy sign that the party is actually attracting talent.

Being on the other side of the Tasman, I’m reasonably detached from what is happening on the ground. But from what I can tell, here are some of Labour’s great new candidates who are making a huge difference…

Tamati Coffey opening his campaign office.
Tamati Coffey opening his campaign office.

Tamati Coffey – Rotorua. This goes without saying. Not only does Tamati have a great deal of charisma, and already has huge name recognition from his TV career, but he seems to be taking to political campaigning like a duck to water. His Facebook page is plastered with photos of a large and diverse campaign team, actually doing things that win votes, like getting on the phones, knocking on doors and talking to voters. It would be very easy for a celebrity candidate like Tamati to stick to a vanity campaign and cover the electorate in posters of himself, but he obviously realises that politics in the 21st century is a much more nuanced beast.

Clare Wilson – Bay of Plenty. Like Rotorua, the Tauranga/Bay of Plenty region hasn’t got the strongest local party organisation. That said, Clare seems to have whipped up a bit of a firestorm in the electorate and is running a smaller, but targeted campaign. The Bay of Plenty isn’t a seat Labour would win even in a very good year, but Clare is working hard building the base, and in conjunction with neighbouring electorates, is doing the best they can to mobalise party votes.

Willow-Jean Prime – Northland. I have to admit that I know very little about Labour’s candidate for Northland, which is why it was such a surprise to see that she almost has 1500 likes on her Facebook page already. Now Facebook likes alone aren’t going to get you elected (especially not in the National stronghold of Northland), but it does indicate something else. In selecting Willow-Jean Labour have chosen a well-known local councillor. Prime was elected at last year’s local government election as the second highest polling candidate in her ward, and has a large local profile. I can’t say what her campaign this year will be like, but Labour have shown some smarts in picking a well-known local who already has some political smarts and a strong electoral track record.

Adrian Rurawhe – Te Tai Hauāuru. This is one seat that Labour is generally accepted to have a decent chance of picking up this year. The incumbent, Taria Turia of the Maori Party, is standing down leaving a prime vacancy. But Labour haven’t taken anything for granted. Rurawhe has built what seems to be a very large campaign team and as well as getting all over the (huge) electorate, seems to be making a solid effort of canvassing. It’s hard to see him not being a shoe-in for the seat with the awesome effort he is putting in.

Arena Williams – Hunua. Arena has put her hand up to fly the flag in the National stronghold of Hunua, just south of Auckland. It is traditionally one of the last seats that Labour manages to find a candidate for, but her enthusiasm is incredible. She’s already mobalising many of Labour’s younger members to help out, and they’re knocking on doors and phoning like crazy. Of course, there is no way Arena is ever going to win Hunua, but it looks like she is going to make damned sure Labour gets all the party votes it can out of this safe blue seat. Good on her.