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Upton On Line - Post Election Chill

Upton-on-line found himself in a very long line at Kelburn Primary School late on polling day. Voting for Dr Paul Hutchinson in Port Waikato and National on the list proved a tricky business since the voter ahead in the queue used up the last envelope for ballot papers. Upton-on-line's votes had to be sellotaped together to make sure they didn't get lost in the ballot box. It is as well that Dr Paul has a goodly margin as the vote looked pretty irregular.

Coping with election night was a doddle after those traumas. A sub-committee of the Privy Council gathered at Rt Hon Don McKinnon's and the leftish tsunami reached Thorndon shortly after 10.00 pm.

It was a much more exciting night than upton-on-line can ever remember (and he has been messing around with elections since 1975 - and as a candidate since 1981). It was made even more exciting by TVNZ's shambles as the wrong projections kept coming up in response to a very chipper Linda Clark and an almost ruminative Paul Holmes.

It is clear that the news media still hasn't worked out how to report an MMP election. Holmes, Clark and co spent 95% of their time analysing constituency results and upton-on-line went to bed very late still not knowing who had made it from each list. The Sunday Star Times was even more illiterate - no mention of lists AT ALL!!

The night on TV1 had some great cameos - Jim Anderton claiming victory on behalf of the centre-left, Bill English conceding defeat on behalf of Jenny Shipley, upton-on-line and many others who thought it just a tad early to throw the towel in.

Many images will remain vivid for weeks to come: Sue Bradford was clearly uncomfortable having to smile and appear positive. (She will be relieved to be able to get back to some good old-fashioned outrage come Monday). Katherine O'Regan's exhilaration was infectious. Marion Hobbs, with her beatific smile and cassock-like get-up, threatened at any moment to burst into "climb every mountain".

New Zealanders now have an excellent idea of what Helen Clark's front door looks like (not to mention Jenny Shipley's garden). All sorts of innovative locations for election night parties were tried. Bill English looked to be in a woolshed and NZ First apparently chose a dairy factory as the setting for NZ First's moment of truth. Winston looked more like a mafia godfather than ever.

Helen Clark's comments were polished, considered and impeccably cool as we have come to expect. I thought Jenny Shipley was excellent. She has never put on airs as Prime Minister - either publicly or running cabinet meetings - and the sheer genuineness of her character shone through.

Jim Anderton took the prize for election night gush. The centre-left is apparently going to be co-operating and partnering with everyone. This sounds pretty exhausting stuff - Sue Bradford must be relieved that she won't have to try. Richard Prebble and Rodney Hide must be terrified.

Upton-on-line was a bit mystified by Jim's call to bright young kiwis to come home from abroad and "help rebuild New Zealand". It should be possible to arrange for stamped addressed envelopes to be sent to émigré New Zealanders so they can voluntarily return the extra taxes Jim's after. That would be a way of testing whether we need to expand the arrivals or departures concourse at Auckland International Airport when the first left wing budget is read.

Those preferring to stay away have been given a pretty expansive view of Jim's ambitions, following his declaration that he intends to be part of a government "for the next millenium". (The last political leader with that ambition, we hesitate to observe, only managed 11 years and ended up being invaded by his neighbours!)

Without out a doubt, though, the most chillingly nihilist moment of the evening was the comment of one of the ejected Maori members (was it Delamere or Henare?) who opined with Sartrean finality "life's a bitch and then you die." He'll be mobbed by job offers from university philosophy departments.

Upton-on-line will go weekly from here on with a return to serious political commentary once the first week's coalition machinations are completed. If you have friends who would enjoy the sort of crisp commentary this site has tried to provide, please pass on the address so that we can widen the circle of New Zealanders taking a more than bored and cynical interest in politics.

The next three years are going to be eventful. It is the first left wing victory since 1972 and, like that fateful year, there's plenty of money in the kitty so the fiscal bonfire is likely to be fast and furious if the 'heart' of the new government is given its head. If National keeps its head, it should be in good shape to sort out the mess in 2002.

All the best as you visit your tax advisers and travel agents (to bring those talented children home, of course!).

ends

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