This parliament will be the first parliament for 12 years that does not have a majority for abortion law reform. There was never a majority to talk about abortion, or to have the debate, but there has been a majority that would support abortion law if they had to vote. That majority almost certainly no longer exists, thanks to the mob Winston Peters brought in, and the high vote for National. Important abortion rights advocates in the Labour party are gone: Steve Chadwick, Carol Beaumont and Carmel Sepoluni (although there is a small chance of either, but not both, of the last two getting in on the specials). While we can expect some turn-over and some of them to get back in this term, it won't change the fundamental maths and ability to add up to 61.
While high National polling was inevitable, and under 48% is actually much less worse than it could be, the results themselves are pretty dire. My main hope for the evening was that both John Banks and Peter Dunne would lose their seat, that they didn't bring any cronies with them is not a particularly big silver lining. I did idly think "well it'd be funny if NZFirst got back in" in the last few days - I didn't mean it! That's all bad news. I'm not sad about Labour's collapse or glad about the Greens rise - apart from how it effects abortion politics. I would have liked to see Annette Sykes in there - although I'm sure she'll just as useful work from where she is now.
I find the rise of the Conservative party pretty depressing - a sign that money can buy your votes. But also everything felt reactionary last night - and the news that almost 3% of people want National to be more reactionary than they are - is pretty depressing.
The coverage was also pretty reactionary. TVOne's election coverage was so bad that I considered advocating a shift to TV3 - where Paul Henry, John Tamihere, Chris Trotter and Rodney Hide waited for us. It was wall to wall bloke, bloke, bloke bloke, matey, bloke. Which was only emphasised when they brought on Jacinda Arden and Nikkie Kaye and talked about their looks, or had Petra Bagust circulating round a party. On top of that with Willie Jackson on TVOne, John Tamihere on TV3 and Derek Fox on Maori TV each channel had its own Clint Rickards apologist. I'm not surprised by the male centred nature of this coverage, but the programmers should be ashamed.
Having said that there are always some reasons to be cheerful.
- MMP is looking pretty safe.
- Turn-out was low. I find knowing that 35% of eligible voters voted National much more reassuring than the near 50% you hear in the news.
- National actually lost 100,000 votes over the last three years (Labour lost 200,000)
- Don Brash is resigning his farcical time as ACT leader.
- Paul "the most important thing to me that people in prison can't vote" Quinn is out of parliament, at least for now.
- Paula Bennett may yet lose Waitakere - that would be a thing of beauty.
- There are some strong advocates for abortion rights within the Green caucus.
- Mojo Mathers should get in on the Specials. Having a deaf MP should have some pretty awesome flow-on effects when it comes to accessibility and entrenching NZ Sign as an official language.
- Kelly Buchanan got 36 votes - so my friend should have had a pretty good night.
There's a more fundamental reason to be cheerful - and I'll expand on this tomorrow - we don't have to accept the world the politicians want to make. If voting is the most important political act you do, then election night is always going to be depressing. But if you dream of a world that is better, then there are going to plenty of opportunities to help make it over the next three years. After all the biggest steps towards women's liberation in this country were made under right-wing Male Chauvanist Piggy Muldoon.