It might be a rogue poll but the Nats must offer alluring policies – and get back to championing our rural regions

Latest  political    polling    puts   Labour   at  60.9%,   which – if  carried  through  to  the election – would   give  it  77  seats  in the  next  Parliament.    Is  anyone  (apart  from the  most fervent  National supporter)   surprised?

National’s  campaign  manager,  Gerry Brownlee,  dismisses   the   Newshub  Reid Research sampling  as  a   “rogue”  poll.    This begs   the   question  whether  he  would  have done  so,  if  it had   shown his own  party  a  bit  higher than   25.1%.

Other   polls   (even  one suspects  National’s  own  private polling)    have  had  Labour     above  the  50%  mark.

With  the  Covid-19   pandemic  raging  around the   world,  New  Zealanders  are  comforted their  government  has  got it   right:   they  only  have to  look  as  far as  Victoria  to see  what happens    when   the  governing  authorities   make a  mess  of it.

In  NZ,  even  where  the  economic  downside  is  causing  individual  hardship,  there   is  still  relief  the  government   has eliminated   community  transmission,  and  crowds    can cheer  on  their Super  Rugby Aotearoa   heroes,   in  person,  or   for  that  matter    that other  hero  Ashley  Bloomfield  turning  out  in  the  25th  annual  parliamentary   rugby  game.

When   Jacinda  Ardern   is being  touted  as a  front-runner  for   the  Nobel  Peace  prize,  winning  international   recognition  for  her   leadership   in  combating   the    Covid-19  threat,  she  has   reached a  pinnacle   few  other   NZ  prime  ministers  have done.  There   may have   been  blips  on  issues   like  border  control,  but  Ardern’s  performance   through  the  crisis   has been  impeccable,  in the eyes of  the  majority of  New Zealanders.     Who   cares   about the failures  of  KiwiBuild   or other  “transformatory”  promises    when    NZ  is  purged  of  the  fear   that  Covid-19  would carry off thousands  of  NZers?

By  comparison,  what   could  National  expect, after  throwing  overboard  a couple  of  leaders, (and seeing also a  procession  of   lower-ranked  MPs   jumping ship or being made to walk the plank?

The  Dominion-Post’s  political  editor   Luke  Malpass   headed up   his  analysis   of the poll:  “Scandals  peel  scab  off  brand”.

Maybe a bit  harsh,   when you consider Labour    has   had    its  own scandals,   including  Iain  Lees-Galloway  taking   his  Workplace  Relations  role  a step  too far.   But   the  electorate  in the euphoria  it  feels   from escaping  what   Covid-19 is  inflicting  on  other countries  discounts   those  as  mere  peccadilloes.

The    problem   for   National  goes   much  deeper.    And  it  might  take   more than    Judith  Collins can bring to  the  task  if    the  party   is  to   be  pulled  up   to where it  was   just a few  months  ago.

Certainly    claiming to  be   better   managers  of  the  economy   won’t  do the  trick,   especially  if  NZ   under Ardern    is  doing as  well, if  not  better,  than  other  countries.

There  is  little  evidence  that    since   National  lost  the  Treasury benches  in  2017,  it  has  been  working    on  refreshing   its  policy  platform,   finding   new  ideas    which  appeal  to  a  broad spectrum  of  voters.

Anyone  familiar  with  previous   periods   when  National was  cast  into  opposition  would be  aware   of  how   backbenchers   would be formed into  teams to    flesh   out    new   policy ideas  and frame  a programme  on   which   the   party as   a  broad   church   would  bring  in  new converts.

It’s   as if  the  party  has   been  unable to   get over   its disbelief   it  could  somehow  be  deprived   of  its rightful place  on the  other side of  the  House.

Even  as   Covid-19   has  turned  the  world   upside   down,  National   has been  slow  to  adapt to  the    challenge of  being  in a  very  different  place  from  where it  was   in 2017    when it   lost office.

Finance   spokesman  Paul  Goldsmith   says:

“National has a plan to deal with the economic and jobs crisis, and give businesses the confidence to invest and grow to create more jobs”.

But the specifics  remain a   mystery.

National’s  support  base,  particularly  in  the regions,    would  be  eager    to  hear  how National  in government   would infuse  the  primary industries    with the  backing  of   new ideas,  in recognition  of the hard truth  that without   overseas   tourists and  international  education,  it is  the country’s food  producers   who  are  left to  earn  the  bulk  of  the country’s  foreign  exchange receipts.

Few   may  be  aware  even  of the  name  of   the   party’s  agriculture   flag-bearer,  let  alone  of the  policies    which  would   lead  to a  surge  in  production.  Yet   with  the   government’s negativity, showing  through   on  issues  like  so-called   “dirty   dairying”, and   gene  editing,   National  has  had  the  chance  to re-assert   its traditional  role  as    champion of   the rural  regions.

Should    the    Newshub  Reid  Research  poll,  ( taken   over the period    when  National was  floundering   in  the    rough    headlines   over   its  leadership,    and the  shenanigans  of   best-forgotten backbenchers) , prove   to  be  a   “rogue”,  the  party  will nevertheless have  to find  a  way  to  convince  voters  it  can   govern    more effectively than  Ardern.

2 thoughts on “It might be a rogue poll but the Nats must offer alluring policies – and get back to championing our rural regions

  1. “But (National’s) specifics remain a mystery”. Can you enlighten us on “Labour’s specifics”. Meaning specifics, not (per recent example) another $30 million study of how to invent a perpetual motion machine. Or, more to the point, tax policy specifics to dig us out of the huge economic hole they have dug for us. Are you sure this post wasn’t written by Luke Malpass under cover?

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  2. Why is it that so many Kiwi commentators buy in to the NZ has done so well, as tho it was the personal decisions by a prime Minsister and then finding a base case to compare to. In this article Victoria.

    Many countries have done better than New Zealand!!
    I know. Shock horror. But its a fact ignored by the Cindy/Kiwi worshipers.

    Some simple example include the Pacific Islan nations.
    Ok they get didmeissed as too small
    How about SE Asia Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos large populations with land borders

    And of course the gold standard. Taiwan.
    ALL who have done better than New Zealand in containing the virus while not locking down their population and destroying their internal economies.

    Some people need to get out more and stop ingesting the trash put out by NZ media.

    PS. I have been trapped in Cambodia(No general lockdown) since March and am thankfully not bombarded with NZ media. and yes Cambodia has not locked down their borders to everyone, but rather put in place a pragmatic solution.

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