Have you noticed how Labour has started attacking National leader Christopher Luxon?
Richard Prebble explains why:
The commentators are busy writing off National leader Christopher Luxon. One wrote that he is “starting to look more like a Todd Muller“. Another claimed “the number of people who dislike Luxon is very high for a new leader“.
It is total nonsense. Luxon is nothing like the hapless Muller. The only politicians who no one bothers to dislike are those who are totally useless. Around a third of the electorate are committed lefties. They dislike Luxon because they think he can win. Labour would not be testing attack ads if their polling did not say the National Leader is a threat.
Objectively, Luxon’s achievements as a leader are astonishing. When he took over as leader the National caucus was a poisonous bear pit.
It is a remarkable turnaround. He could now boast to his conference that his “MPs have their hopeless Labour counterparts on the run”. He now leads what appears to be a cohesive team.
Luxon has been in Parliament for less than two years and leader for just eight months. It takes most MPs six years and three elections to become effective. What is remarkable is not his occasional slip-up, but that he has made so few.
National received just 25.58 per cent of the vote in the last election. Now it is New Zealand’s most popular party. . .
David Farrar explains just how significant that turnaround is:
I don’t think people realise how remarkable that swing has been. They were 25% behind Labour at the last election and now lead them in every major poll. A swing of 10% is considered significant. A 25% swing is huge. Here’s what the swing has been for every MMP election (gap between National and Labour):
- 1999: -15%
- 2002: -12%
- 2005: +18%
- 2008: +13%
- 2011: +9%
- 2014: +2%
- 2017: -14%
- 2020: -32% . . .
Only in the last election, when Labour was assited by Covid-19 and national disfunction has the swing been greater.
Back to Prebble:
Luxon has the great advantage of not only having a good CV, but of looking like a prime minister. Nothing else has changed, so he has to be given the credit for National’s revival.
He has united caucus, gained the support of the wider party and is convincing the voting public that National would lead a much better government than Labour.
The next election is now Luxon’s to lose. Labour’s only hope of re-election is to politically destroy the National leader.
There is a tried and tested formula. Accuse the Opposition Leader of having no policy. And when he does announce some policy, put it on trial and find it guilty.
When Luxon announced a detailed youth unemployment policy on Sunday, some 15 months before the next election, Labour could not wait to find it “guilty”. The attacks would have been more effective if ministers could agree on what is wrong with National’s policy. Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni says it is because the policies have no merit. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says it is because the policies “already exist”. Of course both could be true.
If both exist why is the government expending effort and money on policies that don’t work?
The apparatchiks are surprised Luxon has chosen youth unemployment as that is not an issue in any poll. Luxon also identified the cost of living as a crisis when inflation was not an issue. His identification of the issue and Ardern’s dismissal of any cost of living crisis is the reason why voters now say National is better able to handle the economy.
There is great unease over how the young are faring under Labour. Just 46 per cent of pupils attended school regularly in term one. There is a 49 per cent increase in the number of young people on the Jobseeker benefit. When Luxon says “get the kids back to school” and that young adults need to “find a job and become independent”, the country agrees.
Not getting the kids back to school and not helping them find a job and become independent isn’t just failing them. It’s causing problems that will haunt the country for decades and the high truancy and benefit numbers can’t all be blamed on Covid-19 and winter ‘flu.
Luxon’s statement to the National Party conference that – “as a nation, we all bear the costs when welfare becomes not a safety net to catch people if they fall, but a drag net that pulls the vulnerable in” echoes Norman Kirk. Kirk used to say that welfare needs to be not a safety net that catches, but a springboard that propels back. . .
Margaret Thatcher said I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.
Labour’s attacks on Luxon personally and politically reflects well on him and poorly on them.
It shows they recognise how well he’s doing, that they have nothing substantial to criticise him on and no substantial policies to counter his attacks.
The contrast between his decisive reaction to revelations about one of his MPs and Jacinda Ardern’s trade mark equivocation in response to her MP, Dr Gaurav Sharma’s public complaints – ramped up yesterday with screen shots of messages from other MPs – clearly shows who is the better leader.