Monthly Archive: February 2018

Now comes the hard part for Bridges & co.

Simon Bridges has been elected leader of the National Party.

(And typically, I completely forgot to blog about it yesterday)

But Simon is leader now, and this is where the hard part begins.

Being the leader of the opposition for a first term government is probably the most difficult and thankless job in politics.

He’s tasked with holding the government to account, like any opposition leader.

However, at the same time, he has to defend the previous National governments stance on all issues, as that is where the new Labour government will put all the blame for the country’s problems.

All of this while competing for media attention against a polarizing, popular, 37 year old prime minster who is in the midst of experiencing both a poll bump and a baby bump.

And, when he does get media attention, he has to make sure he doesn’t sound like your typical whining opposition – something which Labour almost always sounded like during their nine long years in opposition.

The one advantage Bridges has is that the majority of National’s voters still feel like they “won” the election, and for the moment at least, are sticking loyally by the party.

But, in the latest poll, National fell to 43%, meaning that National voters may be beginning to unstick.

So, for Simon Bridges, the reality of holding “the worst job in politics” may soon set in.

National desperately need a conservative support party

Labour rose to 48% in the latest poll, while National slumped to 43%. 

The Greens are at 5%, (problematic) and NZ First are below the 5% threshold, at 3%.

What was apparent was National’s biggest problem: The lack of a support partner.

If this poll was to fore-show the next election, National would be in big trouble.

With Act barely existing anymore, and the Maori party dumped out of parliament, and NZ First looking at the grave, the Greens are the only available coalition partner for National.

But the bridge between the Greens and National is wide.

But, both parties simply didn’t speak to each other during the coalition talks as both felt that the differences were to wide.

So, before 2020, National has to either bridge the gap between them and the Greens, or find a new party to work with.

Late last year, a couple of columns came up suggesting National were thinking about helping create a new conservative party.

But, as the polls show, there is no way that National will ever be able to govern in the near future without help.

So, creating this small conservative party should almost certainly be on the agenda for whoever the new National Party leader is.

 

Will the Greens dip in the polls affect the waka jumping bill?

Last night, a new Colmar Burton poll came out, and boy, was it big.

Labour was up to 48% – the highest it’s been in 15 years – and NZ First slipped to 3% – below the 5% threshold to get back into parliament.

However, slightly overlooked by most commentators was the Greens fall from 7% to 5% – meaning the Greens are only just above the line to get back into parliament.

Fall any further, and the Greens risk not be in parliament come 2020.

So, that raises the question – what can the Greens do to stop themselves from slipping below the line?

Well, one option is for the Greens to reconsider their support for the waka jumping bill.

The waka jumping bill, which states that if MP’s are expelled from their party, they are expelled from parliament as well.

The bill has faced almost universal opposition from the public.

However, the Greens will be the ones that will be blamed if the bill passes – Given that they are on confidence and supply, they are under no obligation to vote for the bill.

If they do vote for the waka jumping bill to pass, then they will almost certainly drop in the polls.

Meaning that voting against the bill may be a way to score points with the general populace.

On the other hand, worrying about the polls this far away from the election seems silly.

Once again, the Greens are stuck with a very hard choice in front of them. Which way will they lean though?

We will just have to wait and see.

Best of Mark Mitchell’s press conference

Mark Mitchell has announced that he will run for the National party’s leadership.

Now, I wasn’t able to watch his press conference due to school, but I did read the tweets coming through about it.

And from what I read, there were a couple of comical moments.

Enjoy!

Reporter: “Can you sum up your leadership in one word?”

Mitchell: “Strong leadership”.

Reporter: “That’s two…”

Mitchell: “Um, ok, leadership” Mitchell.

 

Reporter: “Do you think Kiwis know who you are?”

Mitchell: “Nope,”

 

Reporter: What kind of conservative are you?

Mitchell:  “A kind conservative”

 I have to say, if the next three years will be like this, I am kind of rooting for Mitchell to win!

English to become an official language?

NZ First MP Clayton Mitchell has put a members bill in to make English an official language. 

In Mitchell’s own words:

“It’s common sense to officially recognise the language that the vast majority of New Zealanders use on a daily basis,” he said.

Yeah… Nah.

English is already an official language, even if it isn’t recognised by the law.

Plenty of better things for government to focus on.

Winston’s attack on English is just part of the problem

Claire Trevett at the Herald writes:

Winston Peters has ignored gracious farewells to Bill English, instead launching a withering attack on the departing National leader – and his caucus…

Asked if he had any kind words for English, Peters said: “I’ll leave those nice words to you.

“I don’t think he wants to know about sympathy or otherwise. He’s a big, grown, aged man, so to speak, and he’s always known how rough this game is because he’s been part of it, and [been] in fact inside coups, and sooner or later it will come to haunt you.

This highlights part of the wider problem with politics: We feel free to attack, offend, and belittle those who we disagree with.

Just because someone has different views than you doesn’t mean that you should attack them, call them names, or try to offend them in any way.

Politics is a polarising topic.

But that’s no excuse for being mean.

Bill English resigns as National Party leader

Jo Moir and Tracy Watkins writes:

Bill English has announced his resignation as both National Party leader and an MP.

He will step down on February 27 and intends to deliver a valedictory speech in Parliament on March 1…

He said the decision was a “purely personal” one.

The National Party caucus was told about his plans in their weekly caucus meeting on Tuesday morning, before English held a press conference flanked by his colleagues and family, including wife Mary and some of his children.

Holy Shit.

That’s my general feeling.

This came right out of the blue.

While it was always likely that English would resign as National Party leader before the end of the term, I always expected it to happen in mid 2019, not right at the start of the political year.

It’s not good for National either.

They now risk putting themselves on the same path that Labour did in 2008 – Going through a conveyor belt of leaders.

Will that be the case? Time will tell.

The pickle the Greens are stuck in

As the Greens co-leadership election continues, the pickle they are stuck in becomes more apparent.

Currently, there are two confirmed candidates: Marama Davidson and Julie Anne Genter. Both of them represent different perspectives of the Green party.

Marama Davidson represents the left wing perspective of the Greens, and the status quo. She’s Metira Turei’s heir. Due to her left-wing status, she widely considered the favourite.

But the Greens have a problem if they stick with the status quo.

Jacinda’s popularity is still on the rise. Labour is going up in the polls, although, at least for the moment, most of the support is coming from NZ First.

But the drain from NZ First will only last for so long.

Eventually, assuming Labour’s popularity continues to go up, Labour will start to suck even more support from the Greens.

And if the Greens stay as far left as they are, there is no where we they can pick up any more support from.

And even if Davidson proves successful in raising the Green vote, almost all the support she pulls in will come from Labour – meaning that there is unlikely to be a win-win situation for the current government.

That brings us to the other candidate in the race: Julie Anne Genter.

Julie Anne Genter is seen as being towards the right when it comes to the Green party at large. This has seen her pick up an endorsement from Mike Hosking – a right wing commentator.

Unlike Davidson, Genter has the opportunity to pick up support from National. But if she does so, she risks isolating the left wing perspective of the party – meaning that a net loss in the next election is very possible.

There is one more possibility.

While Eugenie Sage has not yet confirmed she will run, she has been widely speculated to.

Sage is seen very much as the “compromise candidate” in the race.

Assuming she runs and wins, the hope will be that she can draw in the best from both worlds – Keep the left-wing branch happy while drawing National voters.

But this comes at the risk of isolating both groups – meaning Sage could well be the riskiest candidate there is.

The Green party co-leadership election will probably be the most interesting event of the year.

And with it likely to be the last co-leadership election for at least a decade, this is one of the biggest choices that the Greens will have to make.

All options are risky.

So whichever way they go, hard work will be required to pull it off.

How long will Bennett and Joyce last?

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned how important it was for National to show unity at the start of the political year.

That hasn’t really happened, unfortunately for the Nats. While, for the moment at least, Bill English’s job appears to remain safe – at least for a year or so – rumours continue to circulate about Paula Bennet and Steven Joyce.

Why Bennet and Joyce? Both of them contributed in National’s fall from favour with NZ First – Bennet was one of the minsters who knew about Winston Peters’s superannuation over payment, and Joyce was the man who launched National’s campaign to kill off NZ First.

For the moment, at least, National has decided to put on a show of unity and firmly back English, Bennet and Joyce.

But with Bennet and Joyce’s screw ups during the election campaign, plus the sheer amount of speculation about the pair of them being rolled, it doesn’t seem likely that the two of them will last the term in their current positions.

So, the bets are on the table for how long they will last. My guess is that in May – that’s when the politics is mainly out of the eye of the public – the pair will be rolled by Simon Bridges and Judith Collins – a move that will help their jockeying for Bill English’s position when he goes.

In fact, if the pair are rolled, I’m willing to bet that at least one of them will leave before the 2020 election. Most likely Joyce, as he is a list MP and can leave with little fuss, but a by-election is Bennet’s seat of Upper Harbour is also possible.

However, always keep in mind that what I am saying here is, in the end, nothing more than speculation based off of news articles.

Will Bennett and Joyce be rolled?

We will just have to wait and see.

Grant Robertson’s U-turn on debt

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff writes:

Out of nowhere, Finance Minister Grant Robertson has made a significant U-turn, reversing what seemed to be a core Labour position.

After years of criticising National for a significant growth in Crown debt to more than $60 billion over the last decade, Robertson now seems to think the state of public debt is the best thing about the New Zealand economy….

As sharemarket turmoil in the United States spread around the world, Robertson said in an interview that he had real confidence in New Zealand’s economic fundamentals.

“Essentially the low level of public debt is a really important part of it.”

This from a man who said that under National debt had “skyrocketed”. Barely two months ago he told Parliament he “will not be lectured” by his predecessor Steven Joyce about debt levels.

This is a serious screw up from Robertson. Expect National to be on the attack during today’s question time.

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