Nat's victory party: election night diary
Clinically, I think I'm still in shock. A clear, decisive victory for the right. National can form their government without the Maori party even though they didn't make it to 46%. Act did better than I thought - they will be ecstatic.
National is set to top 1 million party votes. I'm not sure whether that's ever been accomplished before.
Helen Clark concedes and says she will resign as leader so that Labour will have a new one "by Christmas". A gracious end. So too, Winston. He was mentally prepared for it and he was being honest at least when he spoke of looking forward to retirement (not that he would ever phrase it that way). Those were the dramatic moments - not Key's Obamacidal abortion of a victory speech (which I was at).
I started the evening with my co-blogger Mr Bradbury watching the results on TV. Just as last time - based on the record I made - the two big parties would come together and the minor parties would remain rather static over the evening. So it proved to be, but National didn't come down that far, and those big urban booths that Labour had last time were turning blue. At 9:51 I projected that Dunne would hold his seat. That was just the first of a string of disappointments for the Left.
At 10:00pm TV One projected a National coalition. I was still in denial at this point. I can't stand Wendy Petrie's voice - this made it easier to ignore. At 10:05 I projected Nikki Kaye would beat Tizard in Auckland Central. That was the highlight of the evening, capped off later when I bumped into her as we were leaving National's function at the casino. I had to congratulate her on a smart campaign and her hard work - solid win. When did Auckland Central last go blue - if it ever has? Impressive. The party votes are to the left of the candidates in the image. Nikki Kaye picked up 800 or so more votes than her party and the Act vote can't explain it all - they were anti-Tizard Labour and Green voters - probably Greens - who tipped it for her. They were the people she needed to target because if you see Tizard's vote, amazingly, she got more than her party too, so there must have been a few Greens piling in to back Tizard - I know quite a few of them said they did. Will she worm back on the list. I hope not, she doesn't deserve to come back. But I'm ranting again... :) Tonight is Nikki Kaye's night.
At 10:08 TV1 called Te Tai Tonga for the Maori Party but Mahuta would hold her seat and a minute later Horomia said he'll keep his too and without the Maori Party taking them there would be no big overhang and National were in. But it still wasn't sinking in.
10:13 Dunne congratulates Key on forming a government. Yeah but not with another MP. And Chavell gave him a fright. Dunne is a very lucky man.
10:14 Winston mercifully cuts Dunne off before he can mention "commonsense." Winston looks resigned. He said his opponent (who whipped him) was "a bright young guy" and was uncharacteristically benign and generous. Vowing "the cause is not over" and "this is not the end" he said he would not be dealing anymore with the media and walked off. Exit Winston.
10:21 Sir Roger Douglas is being interviewed on TV3 as a new MP... !? I still can't get over that. And another two behind him on the list are through too. I knew they could do it, but they didn't even think they could do it.
10:38 My maths is telling me - and the Elections NZ website is telling me - that National's bloc has 65 against 57 for everyone else. And yet I still can't believe... can't... must do numbers again, because... no.
10:42 Jeanette Fitzsimons comes on to admit defeat and then, interrupting -
10:43 Tariana Turia comes on to say that they have taken one more seat, and will take the other two next time. Now this is typical of the Greens-Maori relationship. Poor timing and competing with each other - classic stupidity from the left. Sort your shit out, people. The Greens standing in the Maori electorates almost proved decisive in them losing. Stupid tactic. For a few extra hundred party votes the greens were prepared to stop them getting in by running electorate candidates. Dumb. Real dumb.
10:49 Someone let Anderton - now the most irrelevant MP (because Gordon Copeland isn't there) - get himself in front of the TV.
10:50 Key is waiting on Clark to concede now, that's why he hasn't done anything. It's sinking in now. National have won. Their numbers aren't falling and they've counted over 2.07 million votes. I guess Helen must be going through the same emotional and intellectual torture and preparing herself.
10:57 Clark delegation departs for her party function and TV1 reports that a phone call of concession must have been made by now. Maybe. Mike Williams' texts would be pretty grim about now. Impossible to win.
11:15 Clark leaves her house and at 11:25 commences a concession speech - her first (and last) as leader. "I accept responsibility" for the result, she announced she would stand down and a new leader would be elected by caucus before Christmas. Cut to Mike Williams. "I didn't know she'd say that". She had figured it out. A clean way to go - ruthlessly decapitate yourself. The Clark era is over. Barbecue season for Phil Goff.
11:34 As soon as the speech is over Key leaves his Parnell house and my co-blogger, Mr Thomas, and I have about 10-15 minutes to make the show.
After a brief delay at the security checkpoint I could hear Key's weak and wooden speech beginning as I galloped up the escalator to the Sky City convention centre. There must have been a thousand there. Perched atop chairs and standing - to a man - they soaked up the Key moment. Punctuated with cheering and applause he took a long time, a very long time, to start speaking like a human instead of the barking he did for the better part of ten minutes. Maybe not even a wooden speech, come to think of it, that has too much personality - maybe concrete.
He did, however, say all the right things. The things that needed to be said. Key's friendly hand to the Maori Party was met with much applause. Behind him was Joyce - I think it is - his political brains? I was unimpressed with the delivery of Key's speech. He gave it like he was at the campaign launch again - which was actually in the same venue. That was a bad thing. He doesn't quite have it yet. Mr Thomas says it's like listening to a fourth form speech.
He's a tough read is John Key, a poker faced, amicable, generic, nice guy. A "natural centrist" is how one party man described him. Centre of what?
He seemed almost embarrassed at one point in a post speech stand-up session as the media asked repeated questions about his victory. Modesty - at last an emotion. This towards the end of a victory lap around the convention centre conducted in the middle of a media scrum. Managed chaos.
So with the beaming right wing bloggers dispersing to drink it up downtown with the party functionaries (what blurry lines) our other co-blogger, Ms Fletcher arrives. I think her and Cactus Kate came to within pricking distance at one point, but the Cactus was in another dimension. Her analysis: "We don't need the Maoris!" I've never seen eyes open so wide and yet be so glazed... and I've been to NORML parties. I salute her endurance. She actually hasn't changed that much since we were at University in the 90s.
A clear victory for National. National+Act+Dunne can do whatever they like. It's happened, it's real, we have to live with it. What an evening.