David Seymour pulls ahead of Judith Collins in a race to the bottom in a week of outrage sparked by $200 in taxpayer money. The week in news from James Elliott. 

Our politicians like nothing more than a binge of righteous outrage to start the week. So there was no shortage of righteous politicians queuing up to dump their outrage on the steaming pile of criticism of the Human Rights Commission for gifting a $200 koha to the Mongrel Mob at a speaking event in May. “It’s an outrage!” they steamed righteously. “And it’s taxpayer money!” they shrieked in the righteous manner that only those whose salaries and expenses are fully funded by taxpayers can shriek.

There’s nothing quite like the inappropriate spending of taxpayer money to kick the taxpayer-funded outrage-at-the-inappropriate-spending-of-taxpayer-money machine into overdrive. Taxpayer-funded politicians strategising with taxpayer-funded press secretaries in taxpayer-funded offices crafting expressions of outrage in media releases spewing forth from taxpayer-funded printers on taxpayer-funded paper and pinging their way into the ether from taxpayer-funded email accounts while taxpayer-funded parliamentary staffers are drafting righteous questions for Question Time and other taxpayer-funded parliamentary staffers are drafting equivocating answers to those taxpayer-funded righteous questions for other taxpayer-funded politicians to read out during Question Time as presided over by the taxpayer-funded Speaker from the comfort of the Speaker’s chair and its taxpayer-funded woolsack.

Although David Seymour’s libertarian outlook probably makes him philosophically opposed to the concept of gift horses, he wasn’t going to look this one in the mouth.

You’d be forgiven for forgetting there’s a pandemic on, but we can at least be grateful to the epidemiologists for providing a working formula to calculate the exponential growth of taxpayer-funded outrage spending generated in response to the original $200 outrage outbreak. Take the original $200, then multiply it by a very large number of your choice – and you won’t even be close.

We can also be grateful for an extraordinarily prescient write-up of Outrage Monday by Jason Walls, Newstalk ZB’s chief political reporter. Writing in the NZ Herald he reported that “Although the donation was relatively small, the Opposition says it’s completely unacceptable that any amount of taxpayer money was gifted to a gang.” So far so standard, but having referenced “the Opposition” it’s the next two paragraphs that elevated Jason’s reportage from standard to soothsaying. He quoted ACT leader David Seymour’s outrage and then Judith Collins’ outrage, but he did so in that order, David followed by Judith. On Monday that order looked like a simple first name alphabetising of two outraged politicians, but by Thursday evening that ordering was the ranking of the Opposition, David Seymour, as the de facto leader of the Opposition and Judith Collins not.

Being preferred to Judith Collins as the preferred PM doesn’t necessarily mean that those who preferred you to Judith actually want you to be the PM.

That ranking was provided by a poll by UMR, Labour’s pollster although this was not a poll for Labour, that saw David Seymour polling at 12 percent as preferred Prime Minister and Judith Collins at 10 percent. These preferred PM polling numbers prompted Labour’s pollster (although this was not a poll for Labour) to conclude that this was “an unprecedented result”. Labour’s pollster (although this was not a poll for Labour) went on to conclude that “David Seymour can now claim to be preferred Opposition leader”, which is pretty much what you’d expect Labour’s pollster (although this was not a poll for Labour) to conclude. It’s also reasonable to conclude that being preferred to Judith Collins as the preferred PM doesn’t necessarily mean that those who preferred you to Judith actually want you to be the PM. As far as preferences go, another interpretation of the polling is that 88 percent of those polled don’t want David Seymour as PM and 90 percent don’t want Judith Collins as PM, plus or minus the margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Nonetheless David Seymour was quick to see the upside. Although his libertarian outlook probably makes him philosophically opposed to the concept of gift horses, he wasn’t going to look this one in the mouth. “People want alternatives” he said. “My job is to put those forward, and this will serve to make me work harder in that.” He can be forgiven for the first-person focus of his response because he was, after all, 100 percent of all Act MPs from 2014 to 2020. He’s now 10 percent of the current number of Act MPs, a fun fact that will earn you both a point and the pity of your fellow team members at your next pub quiz.

And you should really try to get Jason Walls on your pub quiz team because we’re not done with the clairvoyance of his write-up of Outrage Monday. In quoting Judith Collins’ response to the Human Rights Commission $200 koha to the Mongrel Mob and the tenure of Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt he sourced an incredible piece of projection by Judith about Thursday’s preferred PM poll – “Hunt must go whether by his own resignation or not” she thundered “This farce cannot continue.” Give this quote a first-person makeover and it’s the perfect projection on Monday for her polling rejection on Thursday.

Have a peaceful weekend. And if you’re going to spend some part of it pondering whether to pick England or Italy in the Euro football final on Monday morning it might pay to see what Jason Walls is predicting.

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