Archive | March, 2015

Cult Cricketers – Fuller Pilch

27 Mar

To celebrate the final week of the cricket world cup….for no real reason or logic…

He stood over 6 foot, owned a pub, wore an enormous hat, had a stroke named after him, features in flashman, dominated the bowling and was battings first superstar.

Pilch played on awful pitches against round arm bowling but became a legend through his batting. Having dropped his bowling early in his career his forward strokes and the severity of his punishment to on side bowling made him a favourite. A top hatted Steve Waugh ? Pilch famously won a single wicket challenge from Tom Marsden in 1833 which he won by an innings and 70 runs. It made him an instant celebrity. As if to rub home his dominance he beat Marsden again a few months later by 130 runs. At that time single wicket was probably on a par with 20/20. Mass entertainment with big money at stake. Pilch was cool and energetic.

IN 1834 Pilch topped the batting averages with 43, the second placed player was at 18!

Then he took on a pub in Kent to allow him to play for Kent and fortunately the pub had a cricket ground that hosted many championship matches…imagine that!. He was considered the best batsman pre Grace. He looked cool , batted at 3 and he was an athletic fielder in the covers. I’m off to practice my Pilch Poke in the garden.




Northland By Election Weak , Very Weak 7

26 Mar


In the future this By Election will be looked back with intrigue and astonishment. Rather like when you realise Gulliver’s Travels is a satire or CS Lewis was just pushing the bible..there will come a moment when the country will say ” that’s what was going on..”. But in the present it just seems beyond belief.

A By Election caused by an MP resigning for a crime he may or may not have committed, may or may not have been guilty of, may or may not involve certain people, who was good enough to chair the Law and Order Select Ctte who resigned and became he who must never be named. McSabin. So here we are in a land of disbelief. Who better to replace the candidate who we don’t know what he did wrong with than a candidate who is not allowed to speak. Ok there’s a reason he doesn’t speak and its best articulated in reading what he did say when he did speak.

Here’s a link

SO since then he’s been paraded around in his check shirt threatening to bench press people ( whatever that means it obviously isn’t Sabin’s crime ) but having his words spoken by senior politicians who aren’t candidates.

This week it seemed there are concerns about his financial management of a trust he was GM of. Drip drip drip.

I have been disappointed that Andrew Little hasn’t fought a strong campaign to show how his Labour leadership is fighting the Nats. He could have fought a positive upbeat campaign, instead he has abdicated that role , the strong campaign aspect anyway, to Winston.

For we shall also look back and think did people get excited about Winston. Winston who wants to send them a message, but still support them in a non threatening way. Winston who is asking Labour voters to support him despite thinking they are gays and queens and having been on stand by to form a coalition with Key only 6 months ago. Winston who has been blowing more dog whistles than a sheep dog trial. Winston is supposed to be our saviour. He will get the bridges built on time.

It ends tomorrow, or maybe it starts tomorrow. Curiouser and Curiouser …but it’s no use going back to yesterday for I was a different person then ( Winston in Wonderland)

Cult Cricketers- Greg Matthews

22 Mar

To mark the cricket world cup final week I have put together a random group of posts to some cult cricket stars…not sure why.

In the Mid 1980’s it looked like the rebuilding of the Australian Cricket team would be built around Greg Matthews. In 1985-1987 he seemed to be on fire. However he was soon relegated to a bit player and …well lets return to that.

Matthews is one of those players considered an enigma. In reality it just meant he was different. Theres a great story in”Calypso Cricket” where Matthews tells Chris Reid he doesn’t rate the Beatles. Reid is shocked. The exchange tells you all you need to know. 80s 90s cricket was still dominated by the almost mobish hard straight man of Chappel/Lillee…don’t get me started on Marsh. The image dominated for a long time. Matthews was labelled a “punk in a baggy green cap”( Possibly by O’Reilly I can’t remember) or one journalist called it petit-punk hair..which means what ? In reality he had slightly spiky hair, an earring and didn’t like the Beatles. His hair was never as good as Colin Millers (Sorry Greg) but he was seen as a rebel for it and his dress sense none the less. Again just remember that Marsh would wear budgie smugglers on a good day.

As a cricketer he was a fairly solid left hand batsmen. He could easily hold his place on runs alone and in the 85/6 season they came a plenty. His bowling was match winning at times and as an off spinner who seemed 30 years younger than every other spinner in Australia played himself into history in the tied test in India. Bowling often in a double sweater in the 90 degree heat. However it seemed his ability to play air cricket bat and a so-called argument over a barbecued steak put Matthews on the outside and soon he was dropped and picked back up with regularity. This does nothing for a players confidence and it showed.

Matthews never seemed supported to concentrate on his batting game at the expense of finding a role for him as an all-rounder. You cant help but notice the different approach with the Waugh’s who both dropped bowling from the selection equation to create long careers.

His cult status is assured, a fan favourite ( though many particularly in New Zealand seemed antagonized by him ) who seemed to run the establishment up the wrong way for being himself. The golden summer of 85/6 will always be his with 3 centuries and some important bowling contributions. He was an entertainer and gave 110%. He scored 79 in his last test innings but was still dropped. It seems the Border era never really supported or engaged him and was happy to move on.

Hopefully one day he will release an autobiography to finally give his side of the story. Many less successful and certainly less entertaining cricketers have done so.

1987 Greg Matthews t-shirts

I wonder if you can still get these …

Northland By Election Week 6

21 Mar

Is it , or is it week 5 or 7. Will it ever end ? And how will it end ? Judging by the sudden emergence of many Osborne billboards the Nats are finally getting a campaign going. But what of the smaller candidates. This week I read an advert for Bruce Rogan, its actually a poem he’s written encouraging you to vote New Zealand First. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it, in some ways it has caused temporary visual issues for me. I am doubting my own eyes , but will reprint it so you can share my pain.


Its not Milton is it ?


Anyway this week started with a cyclone coming, it didn’t really deliver much. Unlike Nats who have delivered bridges upon bridges. The only problem is the candidate doesn’t actually know where they are or what they are called. Osborne is a train wreck and even if he wins might have a short career. By elections require good performances and he’s been off the mark consistently.

Unlike the cannabis party ( or whatever they are called). The candidate got arrested for having drugs on her premises. Of course she did! What do you expect ? Respect surely to a politician living her values.

Winston made some noises about the Mangawhai water debt this week, the first time the Kaipara issues have come to the fore. No candidate seems keen to ensure the election takes place this year. Given that Sabin(whens his court date by the way ? And what is he charged with ?) led the validation bill to turn prior illegal actions into historic legal ones this should be a concern. Oh but it doesn’t beat laughing at nails does it.

Winston also claimed a threat to Wellsford Health Centre. Only problem is it doesn’t exist. So technically he’s correct of course.

And with that were getting to the final stretch. This will be one of the most talked of by elections for a generation. Its hard to remember one that has created so much risk for the obvious potential winner, certainly not since Selwyn or Tamaki. And yet there’s nothing really on offer. Winston claims, Osborne mumbles and people flock to vote New Zealand First as an anti Government gesture, forgetting Winston would have signed up to this Government last year had they needed him.



Peak Thatcher

14 Mar

At some point in the past, not consciously I must have reached my own Thatcher threshold. No more did I need to think about her and what she did. I didn’t even feel the need to make great statements on her death, other than reminding people of her warm words towards the Khmer Rouge and pulling apart the Spectators Thatcher special. ( The Thatcher special could be a train leaving at 19.79 stopping at no hope, destruction , misery and all stations to privatisation). However my thoughts were over. I spent so many years as a student writing all those essays about her government, the 81 reshuffle, M3, Falklands,BBC, Miners, GLC,Westland,etc etc

However earlier this year I got into a strange spat about Westland on twitter. My view on Brittan’s resignation, which was correct of course, was challenged by someone defending Britain’s now dubious personal life. Was I wrong ?

No. But it did open up a chink. So much so that I recently read Campbell’s excellent biography of Thatcher as Prime Minister. Its a pure political biography, takes in a wonderful narrative and although light on analysis of some motives reminded me of a few key things I may have been overlooking. As well as providing some excellent new bits of information.

1. Her personality really was that bad. That anyone could be Prime Minister who couldn’t really have a warm relationship with anyone is strange. She’s not the first and not the last, but would have fit the 18th/19th century better.

2. Everything that’s wrong with modern media was seeded by Thatcher. Its that concept that is put across in flat earth news. Telling frightened people about their own fears, reinforcing negative stereotyping and creating enemies. And she loved enemies(!)- IRA, Argentina, Miners,anyone with a left wing bent, Europeans,BBC, Wets,…however even those who were fitting the stereotype had to become enemies- Howe,Lawson, Unionists,. She was a walking Daily Mail.

3. The lack of cohesion. The philosophy is nothing more than a bunch of animosity and reactive “feelings”. However much they dress it up as Keith Josephs enlightenment or talk Friedman or Hayek they were moving with the wind to create fear and suppress the enemies. Free Markets only existed for money supply, not ideas, entertainment, thought or investigation.

Campbell catches all this brilliantly. I often wonder why Thatcher and her free market disciples never wanted a freer market in elections, given they exploited a rigged market in votes for seats. Why she never promoted women, and on and on. Campbell also captures her last 2 years in power as complete madness and a train crash waiting to happen. It felt like that at the time, and perhaps it was inevitable, perhaps not. There is no way of rerunning it.

Thatcher’s Britain-sadly yes. But its not an intellectually coherent philosophy. Its just one with no industry, no unions, little social capital, unemployment is something accepted and the agenda of the financial sector seems to control everything. Where the democratic process is crushed to the power of who can please the “market”. The nebulous and narrow ” market ” is seen as a moral compass and private equity a good irrespective of the outcome. Its Cameron’s Britain too, but its probably Millibands and all the airs and successors. Unless there’s a revolution we will live in fear as Stuart Hall analysed perfectly and Thatcher exploited for all it was worth.

Her demise is another story, but one worth looking at some point.


Northland By Election Week 5

12 Mar

Its getting nearer…the light at the end of the tunnel, or bridge, may be a train coming the other way who can be sure.

It started off with another opinion poll, a fairly robust looking one that had Winston and Mark Osborne level. The poll showed Winston walking it if the Labour candidate exited. This seemed to excite Andrew Little to the point of mumbling equivocation. He hasn’t exactly pulled the candidate or eased off or anything, just a slight hint that voters should do what they think best. Yes Andrew that’s how it works in an election.

I suppose to be fair those voices trying to get Labour to support Winston are cautious. Cautious that they are supporting a man who isn’t trying to give them anything in return and cautious that only 7 months ago he called the Labour party supporters some outrageous and fairly rude things. Same old Winston.

Out came the National big bribes. We had the bridge upgrades, something even Mike Sabin was asking for. Confusingly Osborne announced this as a Government commitment. Today Key suggests that it may fall off the agenda if he doesn’t get his man.

Osbornes performance is generally poor and he has a major credibility issue around what he knew about Sabin.

Credibility issues yes lets talk about ACT. The Epsom rotten borough holders are threatening to pull their champion speaking candidate in favour of National. Its 3 voters will be sad. They are also threatening to take legal action against Winston Peters around his List MP status. Not sure the law is on their side or why a free market libertarian party wouldn’t just leave it to the electoral market. But then that’s ACT for you.

More promises when Amy Adams came to announce ultrafast broadband is coming to some parts of Northland. Yes the plan they gave in 2008 that may be delivered by 2019. Exciting stuff to announce at this time.

Voting opened this week. 604 people voted in the first 2 days. Compared to the general election there were 328 at this stage. I wont read too much into it yet, but I suspect turnout will be good.


By Elections and MMP

9 Mar

something I wrote last year for an Elections project ..seemed relevant to put a version of it up here and excuse my anal use of Bye not By….



It seems we have been spared, or missed out on, a bye-election for John Banks Epsom electorate[1]. Bye-elections[2] are curious things. They have been a long standing pulse for the political process, and yet under MMP they have taken on a less dramatic and almost redundant role. This brief essay looks at the role of the bye-election under MMP, compared to our first past the post predecessors. It considers the changing dynamic with party list candidates and considers if they are potentially something that need to be consigned to the dustbin or given a new lease of life.


Political anoraks love a bye-election. In England they have a mythical role, captured best by Mr. Pickwick. Who on visiting a bye-election observes “we will behold and minutely examine a scene so interesting to every Englishman “[3]. In the New Zealand context Bye elections have been seen to hold a less entertaining if still important role. Jonathan Boston in his overview some thirty years ago [4]  saw bye-elections as performing four main roles: determining the date of an election, effects on party morale, effects on parliamentary life and recruitment of political leadership.  Under MMP Boston’s framework seems somewhat dated. Prime Ministers seem to set election dates with little regard to anything other than a personal preference. Party morale for existing parties has been little impacted by these elections and given the large number of list MPs Parliament continues with little or no impact. There has also been a shift to party management that under MMP parties looking to refresh their ranks (or remove members with a stain) can manipulate the list rather than have to use a bye-election.


Since the advent of MMP there have been 8 bye-elections. These have taken place for a variety of reasons.


Year Seat Vacated by Reason New member[5]
1998 Taranaki-King Jim Bolger (N) Resigned Shane Ardern (N)
2004 Te Tai Hauauru Tariana Turia (L) Resigned Tariana Turia ( M)
2009 Mount Albert Helen Clark ( L) Resigned David Shearer (L)
2010 Mana Winnie Laban (L) Resigned Kris Faafoi (L)
2011 Botany Pansy Wong (N) Resigned Jami lee Ross (N)
2011 Te Tai Tokerau Hone Harawira (M) Resigned Hone Harawira ( Mana)
2013 Ikaroa-Rawhiti Parekura Horomia (L) Died Meka Whaitiri (L)
2013 Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel (L) Resigned Poto Williams (L)


Only one of these elections was caused by a death whereas 12 of the last 20 bye-elections under FPP were caused by death. Perhaps the electorate parliamentarians are now the younger cohort? Two of these bye-elections have been caused by the resignation of a constituency MP from one party who has then stood under the banner of a new party. Although there is no constitutional reason why this should happen the ratio is significantly high in the MMP era. This also looks odd when compared to those MPs brought in on a list system who have resigned, or left a party, but have remained in parliament[6]. In the case of Turia she resigned from the Labour party over the Foreshore and Seabed legislation and believed her constituents wanted her to make a stand. Why this endorsement wasn’t enough remains something of a mystery. The Labour party and later all other major parties declined to field candidates making the poll a formality with only a few independents on the ballot.[7] Turia did become the first elected MP for the Maori party and perhaps that was the aim.  7 years later Hone Harawira resigned from the Maori Party after his personal relationships with colleagues seemed to disintegrate. However he had to face both his former party and a confident Labour party challenge to hold onto the seat.[8] Of the remaining elections all were caused by resignations. With one (Botany) the member resigned due to a scandal involving her husband and tax payer monies[9]. The rest were candidates leaving to do other things or having had a career reversing loss. It is also worth noting that Epsom is the 6th seat under MMP where the Electoral Act provisions have been used to ensure no bye –election takes place close to an election date.


So of the 8 MMP bye-elections they have all resulted in either a victory for the incumbent or the party of incumbency. Indeed we have to go back to 1985 and some

12 contests to find a change of party and candidate. Perhaps it’s inevitable that bye-elections will have little impact under MMP. The need for coalition makes the idea of say ACT taking a seat off National almost pointless. They still have to play together to form agreements or coalitions and it does little to parliamentary arithmetic. The only bye election that provided any entertainment or likelihood of a party change was interestingly the first where ACT ran National close.


So as we enter the 2014 election do bye-elections matter? The review of the electoral system in 2012 considered the narrow view of the role of List MPs who stand in bye-elections and the potential issues this raises. In Mt Albert for example three of the major candidates were already MP’s.  There was overwhelming support for retaining the ability for List MPs to contest bye-elections.[10] However the issue was also raised that in some countries with an MMP electoral system a bye-election is not held but the vacancy is filled by a substitute candidate.  Given New Zealand’s short electoral cycle and the stability in these results perhaps the issue needs to be canvassed wider in New Zealand.


During MMP there have however been significant churn in List MPs. Firstly there have been 8 List MPs who have gone on to sit as Independent MPs. This may seem spurious given they are elected to top up a party vote. Many of them have been subject to Waka hopping issues. Further 16 MPs have been removed or resigned from party lists during the MMP era.[11]. 6 of these from National, 5 from Labour, 2 from the Greens and ACT and 1 from New Zealand First.


So where does this leave us in 2014. If I can be so arrogant to propose a revised framework, let’s call it the ‘Boston-Mahoney’ By(e) Election framework. This would now cover.


  1. They are a gentle parachute for departing leaders. 4 of the last 11 bye-elections have seen former Prime Ministers resign. This now seems to be a part of the constitutional settlement for former leaders.
  2. Legitimising new parties. Rather than any defections there have been three new parties legitimised by bye-elections in recent times. Mana, Maori and New Zealand First. It would seem difficult now for anyone creating a new party who held an electorate seat to not force a bye-election. Interestingly this has rarely been the case in Britain.
  3. Party morale. It is clear that Labour and Phil Goff got a boost in the Mt Albert bye-election. Of course this didn’t do much to help with the general election but a loss would have had significant doubts cast on his role. The Ikaroa-Rawhiti bye-election was both a boost for Labour (who won) and Mana (who came second ahead of the Maori Party).[12]
  4. Parliamentary arithmetic. It’s still possible that a Government could fall based on the loss of a bye-election. The coalition and supply agreements make this difficult though not impossible.




[1] 13th June 2014.

[2] I use the word Bye rather than by though both appear to have common currency.

[3] C Dickens , Pickwick Papers p106.

[4] Jonathan Boston “ By elections in New Zealand:an Overview “ Political Science 32:2,1980.

[5] Details taken from Parliamentary Library Research paper , 100 years of by-elections in New Zealand , November 2013.

[6]  The most recent and obvious example being Brendan Horam who left the New Zealand First party and sits as an Independent.

[7] 30th April 2004.

[8] 29th June 2011.

[9] 14th December 2010.

[10] This issue is also considered in K Mckenzie “New Zealand By-Elections and MMP: The Labour party and the Mt Albert By-Election”, Political Science 61:2,2009.

[11] Figures supplied from Parliamentary Services.

[12] 29th June 2013.

Northland By Election Week 4

6 Mar

Week 4. The energy is building up. Before anyone gets carried away I want to clarify something personal here. This is an interesting entertainment spectacle, nothing more. There seem a whole plethora of people ready to see this as something else…more about them later.

Week 4. 3 more to go ? Is it ?

This week the candidates were finalised. The 2 main parties are in , with New Zealand First. Then there are the also rans. ACT, Focus,Cannabis peeps, the Climate Pparty and Mana. Colin Craig’s Conservatives ( he hopes they keep that name to remind them he’s the boss ) didn’t field a candidate, in order to protect National. That’s what they said anyway. There are also 3 Independents. One is Adam Holland. Holland is turning into the Lord Sutch of NZ politics. Where there’s a by-election there’s a Holland. He stood on a pro Christchurch ticket in the Christchurch East one. Cant wait to see how those values will go down North(or West) of the Brynderwyns. There’s also Bruce Rogan, an Ex Kaipara Councillor. He’s so angry that if he was Lou Ferringo he would have burst his pants into the Incredible Hulk by now. He’s so angry about the council, the rates, the illegal activity, all the others responsibility. I feel he’s gearing up for the big one ( the Council election later this year). In fact he has said that you shouldn’t vote for him but vote for Winston? He’s just publicising his point( or himself). He’s also telling other candidates, notably Labours, that they should also stand but ask people to vote for someone else. Jonathan Swift could not have done better.

Winston has a bus. It’s a lovely bus. It will probably be the star of the campaign. He’s visiting towns all over the place. The first opinion poll has him in the lead. Except there is a margin of error of 4.5% and a 19% don’t know/others. I suspect the others ( who I may look at in more detail in another post) couldn’t muster half that. So there’s a lot to play for. I saw Winston campaigning today. It was not charismatic at all. He wondered around a few guys handed out leaflets, then he got stalked by Mark Mitchell(National MP for Rodney). Mitchell finally caught up with him. They laughed, they joked. How they joked. I suspect Mitchell has been sent to nullify Winston on the borders. Here in the Northland constituency the two men chatted and laughed some more, while a Woman held a sign up behind them for Shiatsu Massage( 15 minutes). I though that was a dog? Swift as I say would have found this hard to believe.

3 more weeks. I am on a roll, so is Winston. But does any of it matter ? Of course not its just entertainment.

Average Winning Scores at the Cricket World Cup

2 Mar

Okay , this isn’t scientific but the point of scoring runs is to win matches. I have done a quick (well it took me ages actually) averaging of the winning scores in all matches in each of the previous World Cups. Remember that the first 3 should in theory be 20% higher as they were over 60 overs. 1975 238.93 1979 196.57 1983 239.92 1987 248.55 1992 216.33 1996 236.2 1999 219.95 2003 226.96 2007 241.21 2011 247.83 So perhaps 2015 will continue the trend upwards. Interesting that 1987 has the highest, I would have thought one of the more recent ones, but then there are more associate matches now, who knows.