Here’s some commentary from PR professional Matthew Hooton, owner of the ‘Exceltium’ PR agency*, on how he sees efforts by New Zealand’s Electoral Commission to increase voter turnout.
“I think the way the Electoral Commission has behaved, taking upon itself (despite having no statutory basis) to try and massively increase the turnout to try and attract these “Missing Million” — this left-leaning Missing Million, who usually don’t vote. I think that might win it for her [Labour Party Opposition Leader Jacinda Ardern].
I think that we may have a bizarre situation that by the time the next Leaders’ debate occurs on Wednesday night – which I think by all accounts Jacinda Ardern will be throughly discredited in by Bill English – by that time, we might find that half of all voters have voted, as planned for by the Electoral Commission.
And what we know from the research is that Missing Million that the Electoral Commission is deliberately targeting – they are overwhelmingly likely to be Labour and Green voters.
So it might be that Jacinda Ardern, despite all this, becomes the Prime Minister – thanks to the unlawful (in terms of not having a statutory basis) intervention of the Electoral Commission.” — Matthew Hooton, NBR Radio 15 September 2017
And here’s an audio file, courtesy of the National Business Review, of Matthew actually saying it:
Two observations: (1) Matthew appears quite wound up about the idea that people who “usually don’t vote” are ‘left-leaning’ — claiming the ‘Missing Million’ are “overwhelmingly likely to be Labour and Green voters”.
(2) Wow, he’s actually portraying the Electoral Commission’s campaign to encourage voter turnout as “unlawful intervention”.
I’m not going to say much more about this, except to express my puzzled disappointment that such a widely publicised political commentator would let himself get so carried away by partisan politics that he would lose the plot like this.
And also, to an certain extent, to ask why such a mature and respected media outlet as The National Business Review would let its platform be used to launch such a bizarre attack. For it seems absurd and undignified to attack the Electoral Commission in this way.
As a commenter on Twitter said, and I agree completely:
If the Electoral Commission makes any progress with increasing the turnout then they should be lauded for a job well done. – @nachomadmess
Quite right. Who could disagree? Well, Matthew Hooton could, it seems.
* At least two Exceltium employees are involved in campaign work in the 2017 New Zealand General Election.
Matthew’s apprentice commentator Ben Thomas disclosed once each on two of the platforms on which he appears (TV3’s The Nation and The Spinoff’s ‘Gone By Lunchtime’ podcast) that he was “doing a little bit of work for the ACT Party before the election”.
Exceltium PR consultant Brooke van Veldon is in fact an ACT Party candidate for Parliament – number 3 on the Party list, requiring around 3% of the Party Vote in the election to become an MP. Most pre-Election polls show ACT at around 0.6% support, so it seems chances are Brooke will be a PR consultant a little longer.