State of the Parties: United Future report card
OPINION: Newshub's politics team has taken a good hard look at New Zealand's political parties and ranked them in key areas. Here's Lloyd Burr's take on United Future.
This section shouldn't exist on United Future's report card. It isn't a party, it's just a nickname Peter Dunne has given himself. He's a one-man-band and shows no sign of recruiting any other members. Calling himself 'leader' is like Brian Tamaki calling himself a 'bishop'.
Dunne’s been the 'leader' since the party formed in 2000 when the United Party merged with the Future New Zealand Party. Since 2008 he's been the sole MP, and the party will die when he leaves Parliament. All of this doesn't make him a bad MP or a bad Minister or a bad person - he's very capable and very knowledgeable. He just has no one to lead.
Peter Dunne's most well-known policies are about drug reform. He talks about it all the time, but his ideas haven't always been successful. Remember his botched policy around legal highs? He refused to ban them, instead opting for what he called a 'game-changer' - the half-baked Psychoactive Substances Act. It changed the game alright, making the problem worse, and a public backlash forced the Government to intervene and repeal it and implement a ban. It was embarrassing for Dunne, to say the least.
Another policy is Flexi-Super, allowing people to choose what age they start receiving the pension. But the Government looked at it, and rejected it. What are United Future’s other policies? Dunno, Google them.
Fresh Face Factor: F
Sorry Peter, you get a fail on this one. You've been an MP since 1984. That's 33 years. Politics has been Dunne’s life. But fresh? Nope. If he was a loaf of bread, he'd be stale. Very, very stale.
There's only one thing saving Peter Dunne from a fail here: his bow ties. He's been wearing these since the beginning and they manage to get his vibe across the line. Yes they're old fashioned, but they make him look quite accomplished, and he pulls off the look with confidence and class. There's also his hair - the subject of one of his most popular YouTube videos.
What about the wider party's vibe? Well, there needs to be a party first.
Election Outlook: F
It's looking pretty dire for Peter Dunne. He'll never get in on party votes alone (only 5286 people gave him their party vote in 2014; just 0.22 percent) - meaning his fate relies entirely on winning the Ohariu seat.
But there's a problem - Labour and the Greens have done a dirty deal. Labour's chosen relatively high-profile former Police Association boss Greg O'Connor to stand there, while the Greens won't stand an electorate candidate at all. Peter Dunne knows it's a problem and he's sensitive about it too - complaining to the council about O'Connor's signs breaching local bylaws.
His majority in 2014 was only 710 votes ahead of Labour. This year it'll be much closer, unless he pulls a worm out of his back pocket, like he did in 2002 - remember that famous debate?
There's a tiny silver lining from the latest Newshub-Reid Research poll though, which shows United Future's party vote at 0.3 percent, 0.08 percent higher than what it got at the 2014 election. The raw truth is he only survives in Ohariu because of his own dirty deal with National.
This time around, he might finally lose the seat. There's only a tiny chance he'll win and if he does, he will be bruised and most likely broken.
Lloyd Burr is a Newshub political reporter.