Opposition hasn’t changed

December 6, 2016

The left is excited over Prime Minister John Key’s decision to step-down.

They see an opportunity because the popular man leading the popular government won’t be in the limelight anymore.

But nothing has changed in the Opposition.

MMP drags governments to the centre and Labour has been dragged left by the Green Party, leaving those disaffected by that but not keen on National to go to New Zealand First.

Opposition parties might get a bit of a lift in polls while people wait to see what the new leader does but they haven’t given any but polls consistently show support changing within the left not growing by taking votes from the centre.

The opposition hasn’t been giving swinging voters anything to vote for and a change in National leadership won’t change that.

National has been cohesive and united under its current leader and the caucus knows that if it wants to win the next election it must maintain the same cohesion and loyalty under the new one.

A change in leadership will provide an opportunity for further refreshment in cabinet but it won’t bring a radical change in direction or change the focus on strong economic management which is needed to fund much-needed infrastructure and social policy that works.

 

 


John Key to resign as PM

December 5, 2016

John Key has announced he’s resigning as Prime Minister and National Party leader:

A special caucus meeting will be called on 12 December, when a new leader will be decided upon.

He said it had been a privilege to serve the people of Helensville, and he will stay in Parliament long enough to avoid a by-election.

Mr Key made the announcement at Parliament today.

He told his Cabinet and caucus colleagues this morning that he did not intend to stay on for a fourth term as leader, he said.

“To me, this feels like the right time to go.”

The timing would give caucus and the new leader time to settle in prior to next year’s general election, he said.

It was “the hardest decision I’ve ever made,” he said. . . 

My first reaction was disbelief then sadness.

John Key took on the party’s leadership as it was on the way up in popularity and built on that.

He led the party to three election victories and has been at the head of a government which has maintained unprecedented levels of popularity.

I first met him when I was National’s Otago Electorate chair and was very impressed with him.

What I saw then, the intelligence, approachability, and both interest in and concern for people,  have been signatures of his leadership of the party and the country.

When he became Prime Minister New Zealand was facing a decade of deficits. He and his team, not least of all his deputy and Finance Minister, Bill English, have turned that round and projections now show growing surpluses.

He has led a strong united caucus and party. The mutual respect between the parliamentary and voluntary wings and party staff is unquestioned. That won’ change under a new leader.

The commentariat and opposition will be delighted and think this will help change the government next year.

But the party’s strength and unity will continue under the new leader as will its compassionate conservatism and policies which work for all New Zealanders.

My initial reaction was sadness. I still feel that, but I am also optimistic about the party and the government, and the new leader, whichever of the several able candidates that will be.

Update:

The PM’s resignation speech:

Just a few days ago I marked the anniversary of my eighth year as Prime Minister and my tenth as leader of the National Party.

Such an occasion seems a fitting time to not only take stock of the past 10 years, but to look forward.

Being leader of both the party and the country has been an incredible experience.

Along with my Cabinet and caucus colleagues, we steered the country through the global financial crisis which was arguably the worst recession since the Great Depression.

We have stood with Christchurch in the wake of the earthquakes – the greatest natural disaster to hit our country since 1931, and we have mourned the victims of the Pike River Mine disaster; one of the saddest days our small nation has endured in recent times.

During my time as Prime Minister the Government has positioned New Zealand so that our economy could harness the opportunities offered by a burgeoning Asia and a more connected world.

Reforms have been far reaching, including substantial changes to our tax, welfare, planning and labour laws, not to mention the successful partial sell-down of state companies, the considerable overhaul of our Justice, Security and Corrections agencies and, of course, trade liberalisation.

Ten years since I first became leader of the National Party, I believe we can look back on advanced race relations and real momentum in the Treaty settlement programme.

We also have a more confident, outward-looking and multi-cultural New Zealand that competes and succeeds on the world stage.

Throughout these years I have given everything I could to this job that I cherish, and this country that I love. All of this has come at quite some sacrifice for the people who are dearest to me – my family.

For my wife Bronagh, there have been many nights and weekends spent alone, many occasions that were important to her that I simply could not attend.

My daughter Stephie and my son Max have transitioned from teenagers to young adults while coping with an extraordinary level of intrusion and pressure because of their father’s job.

I thank them for their tolerance. Bronagh and I are immensely proud of them.
My family has also had remarkable opportunities and experiences as we have met people and visited places from one end of our country to the other.

We have celebrated alongside fellow Kiwis in their happiest times, and wept with them in their saddest.

Simply put, it has, for me, been the most remarkable, satisfying and exciting time of my life.

But despite the amazing career I have had in politics, I have never seen myself as a career politician. I have certainly never wanted my success in politics to be measured by how long I spent in Parliament.

The National Party is in great shape. Bill English has told me that in all his years here, ours is the most cohesive Cabinet he has seen. And I personally am humbled and gratified that after eight years as Prime Minister, my personal support from the public remains high.

I absolutely believe we can win the next election.

But I do not believe that, if you asked me if I was committed to serving out a fourth term, that I could look the public in the eye and say yes.

And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders.

I also believe that leadership change, for the right reasons and handled well, is good for a political party.

For all these reasons, I today told my Cabinet and caucus colleagues of my decision to step down as Leader of the National Party and as Prime Minister.

It is my expectation that on Monday 12 December National MPs will hold a special caucus meeting to select a new leader and later that day I will tender my resignation to the Governor-General.

This has been the hardest decision I have ever made and I do not know what I will do next.

But for me this feels the right time to go.

It gives the Cabinet and caucus plenty of time to settle in with a new leader before heading into the next election with a proud record of strong economic management, a commitment to the most vulnerable in our society and lots of ideas to keep lifting New Zealanders up in the world.

It would be easy to say I have made this decision solely to rediscover the personal and family life I once had, and that is a factor, but it is one among many.

Over the years I have observed many leaders who, in a similar position, fail to take this step.

I can understand why. It is a hard job to leave.

But, for me and the National Party, this is a good time to go. Party membership is high and the party is well-funded. The caucus is talented and eager to serve, and one of the achievements of which I am proud is having built with my colleagues a Cabinet team that is capable, committed and cohesive.

That is a great legacy for National’s next leader.

Just as I grasped the challenge of leadership so will a new leader.

Inevitably they will bring their own personality, emphasis and priorities to the role.

This is part of the process that allows a long-serving government to keep delivering.

For my part I am confident the caucus has a number of individuals who would make a fine future PM.

It is inevitable I will be asked who I will vote for at the caucus meeting on December 12.

Whoever the caucus elects will have my unwavering support, but if Bill English puts his name forward then I will vote for him.

For 10 years now Bill and I have worked as a team. I have witnessed first-hand his leadership style, his capacity for work, his grasp of the economy, his commitment to change and, most of all, his decency as a husband, as a father, as a friend, a colleague and as a politician.

Bill has, I believe, grown a great deal since he was last Party leader.
Fifteen years on he has more experience and the party and political cycles are quite different.

I believe that National, under Bill’s leadership, would win the election in 2017.
This is not the time to thank all of those who have made the past 10 years possible for me.

But nor can I stand here without acknowledging Bronagh, Stephie and Max who have sacrificed a lot for me to have been able to do what the job demands.

No person in this role can succeed without the support of an enormous number of talented and dedicated individuals.

I thank my deputy Bill English, the Cabinet and caucus for their loyalty and energy and, of course, my wonderful staff, so well led by Wayne Eagleson, who have done more than I ever could have hoped or expected.

I also wish to thank and acknowledge our support partners ACT, United Future and the Maori Party without whom the strong and stable Government we have delivered would not have been possible.

I have no doubt my successor will look to build upon these relationships.

Last but not least, I wish to put on record my everlasting gratitude to the people of Helensville for electing me, and to the New Zealand public for their support, faith and encouragement. It has been my privilege to serve you all.

I have always believed that the test of a good Prime Minister is that he or she leaves the country in better shape than they found it. Over time, others will judge whether I have done that.

All I can say is that I gave it everything I had.

I have left nothing in the tank.

Finally, while I intend to stay in Parliament long enough to avoid the cost and inconvenience a by-election would cause the good people of Helensville, I will at an appropriate time prior to the next election step down as an MP.

On that day, I shall walk from these buildings for the last time, a richer person for the experience and privilege of being here, and hoping and believing that New Zealand has been well served by the Government I led.

Thank you.

There’s a video of the speech on Facebook.

And his Deputy, Bill English’s response:

John Key’s intelligence, optimism and integrity as Leader of the National Party and Prime Minister of New Zealand means he will be judged by history as one of New Zealand’s greatest leaders, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English says.

“On behalf of the National Party, the Government and New Zealand I thank John for his years of dedicated and outstanding service to our country.

“Through good times and bad, his strong leadership has been steadfast and this is a more confident, successful and self-assured country because of his contribution. He has truly made a difference.

“I thank Bronagh, Stephie and Max for the sacrifice they’ve made to enable John to be an extremely successful and effective leader.  We are deeply appreciative.

“While the gap he leaves is huge we understand and respect his decision to step down from a job from which there is no respite.  We wish John and his family every success with their life out of the public eye.

“Under John Key’s leadership the Government has worked alongside New Zealanders to ensure our country is one of the most desirable places to live, work and raise a family in the world.”

The National Caucus will consider the implications of the Prime Minister’s decision and how to ensure New Zealand stays on course to continue building a strong economy, increasing opportunities for our families and businesses, rewarding enterprise and effort, while protecting the most vulnerable.

“It is a tribute to the Prime Minister’s outstanding leadership that he will leave behind a united team with plenty of talent to take New Zealand forward and build on his legacy,” Mr English says.


Following not making history

December 5, 2016

A strong candidate and well-ordered campaign weren’t enough to make history on Saturday.

A sitting government has never won a by-election in a seat held by the Opposition and Mt Roskill voters weren’t going to change that.

That National won the party vote in the general election two years ago was irrelevant. It’s a red seat and voting reflected that.

Labour’s Michael Wood, helped by the absence of Green and New Zealand First candidates, won the with 11,170 votes, well ahead of National’s Parmjeet Parmar who got 4,652. The counting of special votes isn’t going to make much difference.

The result brought a good end to a bad week for Labour with two polls giving them at best 28% support and at worst 23%.

But they shouldn’t get too excited.

Maurice McTigue won Timaru for National in the 1985 by-election but Labour increased its support in the 1987 election. More recently, the Labour candidate won Christchurch East in 2013 but National won the party vote in that seat a year later.

Roshan Nauhria, leader of the newly formed NZ People’s Party, got 709 votes on Saturday.

He too should learn from history which shows how difficult it is for a new party to win seats unless it has the advantage of a sitting MP who has changed allegiance.

 

 

 


Bribe-O-Meter relaunched

October 31, 2016

National has a lot to gain from winning the Mt Roskill by-election and Labour is already showing it knows it has a lot to lose:

The Mt Roskill by-election campaign has hardly started and Labour has already shown how desperately worried they are about losing it, National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce says. 

“Labour are hitting the panic button fairly early on,” Mr Joyce says. “Promising a $1.4 billion rail link between the electorate and the city looks very desperate.” 

“This is taking pork barrel politics to a whole new level. If this is the sticker price for a Labour party by-election campaign, all the other electorates across New Zealand will be asking for their $1.4 billion. To say nothing of every other electorate in Auckland looking for multi-billions in new railway lines.  And we’ve still got more than a month to go.”

Mr Joyce noted that the Labour party is promising Auckland ratepayers will pay for part of their by-election bribe. “I’m assuming the new Mayor of Auckland is okay with Andrew Little saying the city has got a lazy $700 million lying around at the same time Mr Goff is out there saying the Council is short of money.”

Mr Joyce says Labour would be better off promoting their candidate as a possible MP for Mt Roskill. “This is Mr Wood’s third attempt to become an MP. You think they would be putting in the effort making him look electable rather than highlighting how worried they are he’ll lose.

“The Mt Roskill by-election will be about who is the best person to represent the electorate in Parliament. 

“Parmjeet Parmar is already showing the people of Mt Roskill that she is a hardworking conscientious MP who will be a strong diligent voice for Mt Roskill in Wellington. All this announcement today underlines is that Labour are worried sick that the people of Mt Roskill will choose her over their candidate.”   

These comments show National has learned from mistakes made in the Northland by-election.

 

And it’s just as well because the Taxpayers’ Union is counting the cost of any promises made:

The Taxpayers’ Union is relaunching its election Bribe-O-Meter to keep track of politicians’ pork-barrel promises in the lead up to the Mt Roskill by-election. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“While the by-election is for a single Parliamentary seat, the cost of pork-barrel promises impact the pockets of all New Zealand taxpayers.”

“Labour has run roughshod over Auckland Council and the NZTA’s cost-benefit planning processes. Its pledge to spend $1.4 billion on light rail risks an expensive bidding war with the Government – with the cost landing on taxpayers.”

“The Bribe-O-Meter is to provide transparency and accountability for what those promises will cost.”

The Mt Roskill Bribe-O-Meter will be hosted online at www.taxpayers.org.nz.

In a by-election voters can, as they do with their electorate vote in a general election, choose the person they think will best represent them and pay less attention to parties.

The more Labour promises to spend, the more it will be showing it lacks confidence it its candidate.

 


Optional hypocrisy

September 29, 2016

The Green Party has announced it won’t be contesting the Mt Roskill by-election, should there be one.

Not wasting time and resources on a contest they can’t win isn’t stupid but it shows up both the Greens and Labour as hypocrites.

Both have been highly critical of National for not trying to win Epsom and Ohariu to help Act’s and United Future’s candidates.

The hypocrisy is particularly bad for Labour’s candidate who stood in Epsom at the last election.

The Opposition’s hypocrisy over ‘dirty deals’ is brazen, says ACT Leader David Seymour as the Green Party confirms that they won’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill as part of an arrangement with Labour.

“Michael Wood’s campaign in Mt Roskill is set to be a brazen display of hypocrisy,” says Mr Seymour. “Two years ago he was bemoaning John Key’s endorsement of a vote for me in Epsom as a ‘dodgy deal’. Now look at him.

The Greens ought to be just as embarrassed, with Julie-Anne Genter having called John Key’s Epsom endorsement ‘undemocratic’. Clearly, this was nothing more than faux-outrage.

Strategic voting is a reality of MMP, but hypocrisy is optional. Labour and the Greens have shown how cheap their words are by participating in a deal that far eclipses the electoral arrangements they criticise every election.”

Labour and the Greens claimed the principled high ground in their criticism of what they called ‘dirty deals’.

Neither can claim to be so principled and both are guilty of making the wrong choice when faced with otional hypocrisy.


Could be a silly precedent

September 13, 2016

Labour is clearly rattled by the latest One News Colmar Brunton political poll which put the party down three to 26% since June.

Leader Andrew Little called it a bogus poll and now the party has released its internal poll results.

 

The Roy Morgan poll a couple of months ago which showed National on 53% was off-trend but the latest One News poll is far closer to others than Labour’s.

Kiwiblog has the four most recent poll results for National and Labour:

Individual polls are probably only of interest to political tragics but others might take more interest in the trends which have National in the mid 40s and suggest the UMR poll is an outlier.

Labour could have set a silly precedent and dug a hole for itself by releasing its own poll.

The media will want to know what the party’s internal polling shows next time one of the public ones doesn’t fit the party’s narrative.

If Labour doesn’t release it the obvious conclusion will be that it isn’t favourable either.

Had it not lost its spin doctors, one of them might have warned the party of that.


‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly

August 31, 2016

All I want is a seat somewhere/ I don’t care if it’s there or here/ Epsom, Roskill/I could if voters will/ ‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly?

Michael Wood stood for Labour in Epsom at the last election with no hope of winning the seat.

A lot of would-be MPs do that. It shows the party they’re committed and is good practice for if or when they’re given a chance in a seat they could win.

He’s now been selected as the Labour candidate for Mt Roskill to succeed Phil Goff  either if he wins the Auckland Mayoralty or when he retires at the next election.

It is expected to be a tight race. National won the party vote in the electorate at the last election and will have a strong candidate in list MP Parmjeet Parmar.

Enter the Green Party stage left.

The party could be prepared to do a deal with Labour and not stand a candidate.

That’s were it gets a bit whiffy because both those parties have lost no opportunity to criticise what they call ‘dirty deals’ in other seats, including Epsom about which Wood said in 2014:

“We are calling for a straight contest and an end to the dodgy deals.”

. . . In fact he went as far as bringing a bag of flour along to debates to replace National candidate Paul Goldsmith who stepped aside to make way for ACT’s David Seymour.

“Every time that Paul Goldsmith fails to front in this campaign, we’re going to remind people about the dirty deal with this bag of wholemeal flour,” Wood said on The Nation’s Epsom debate. . .

He told The Nation that voters were sick of dirty deals. . . .

It won’t be easy for Wood – he needs the “dirty deal” he once supposedly despised.

My question is who is bringing the bag of Quinoa to debates to stand in for the Greens?

The Green candidate got 1682 votes at the last election. Even some of those could make the difference in a tight race.

Wood could well find himself falling off his high horse on what he used to think were ‘dirty deals’ if it’s going to give him a leg-up to the seat.


%d bloggers like this: