How the Nats have opted to invest in the future with small change

A post on the left-wing The Standard blog expresses bemusement at National’s re-election of its party president.

MickySavage writes:

You would think that the conference held immediately after National suffered one of its worst drubbings in its history National would take the opportunity to refresh its leadership and change its direction.

If you did you will be disappointed.

May we suppose this means he was disappointed?

Surprised, perhaps, but Labour and its supporters surely should be delighted at National’s disinclination to overhaul the party leadership after a disastrous general election result.

In his report on the party elections, Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan noted there was some change. But it was small change. 

Former MP David Carter (a veteran politician rather than fresh blood) has become a board member and – significantly, surely – Goodfellow (who has been president since 2009) won less support than any of the others elected to the board:

The AGM also saw three seats on the party’s board up for grabs. Incumbents Goodfellow and Rachel Bird defended their seats, while David Carter won the third seat that was up for grabs.

Former board member Grant McCallum was also looking to return, but didn’t make the cut.

Carter received the most support in the ranked election, while Goodfellow received the least of the three successful candidates.

Coughlan reported that many members hoped this would be seen as a signal by the board that there was appetite for Goodfellow to step away from the role of president.

But the board ultimately preferred him to stay on. Goodfellow brings with him an impressive record of fundraising.

He can raise money, maybe, but Goodfellow’s grasp of the reasons for his party trouncing at the polls last month was exposed as weak.

Former prime minister Sir John Key and current leader Judith Collins urged the party to dig deep and look at the ways to win back voters’ trust over the next three years but:

Goodfellow struck a somewhat different tone, acknowledging the party’s failings but laying most of the blame for the party’s election defeat on Covid-19 and the media. Those excuses appeared not to go down well with delegates.

MickySavage, in his post for The Standard, referenced a Newshub report:

In a speech, Goodfellow began by thanking leader Judith Collins saying members “couldn’t be prouder” of her, to which the room clapped.

Goodfellow then went on to both praise and slam the Labour Government’s COVID-19 response and election campaign.

He said “reasoned debate became treasonous” during the campaign and it was a race of celebrity.

Goodfellow then went on to “give credit where credit is due” and praised Jacinda Ardern for her clear communication over the COVID-19 crisis.

In nearly the same breath, he characterised the daily COVID-19 updates as being “televangelistic”.

He finished his speech with a call for the National Party to rebuild and reunite over the next three years.

This was savaged as “Trumpian in the quality of its analysis”.

Slamming the response of Labour’s Covid response is weird.  As the virus ravages through most of the world New Zealand’s response stands out like a beacon.  And there was lots of debate during the campaign.  We even had minor parties peddle conspiracy theories out in plain sight.  The problem was not with free speech being treasonous, it was because the quality of the speech was so poor.

And Goodfellow’s analysis is so shallow.  Fancy praising Ardern’s clear communications but rubbishing the Government’s overall response.

The observations of “National activist” Ben Thomas were incorporated in The Standard’s post:

“He attacked the media and attacked Ardern, and called those Covid briefings a symptom of tyranny. Which is playing to the National Party’s base which is at that AGM that he wants to re-elect him as National Party president, but sounds ridiculous to the wider public, including all of those voters who deserted National to go to Labour.”

The observations of Claire Trevett at the Herald were tapped, too.

“It was a speech that seemed to show Goodfellow had learned very little about the reasons 2020 brought National to its knees in the first place – or why New Zealanders had thronged to vote for Ardern.

“It was a gob-smacking speech. The interesting thing is the party faithful did not seem to buy it.

“There was a deathly silence from the 600-odd packed into the room while Goodfellow was going through his tirade. It is likely some quietly agreed with him, but there was no spontaneous applause or murmurs of agreement.”

Trevett contrasted this with Key’s response to the election result.

He delivered a stonker. He told them they had lost 413,800 voters, and he told them why. He told them their voters had flocked to Labour and to Act because of National’s disunity and leadership changes.

He warned them not to assume Ardern’s popularity would wane, because that was a mistake Labour made about him for almost a decade.

And he told them that Labour would spend the next three years focusing on keeping those 413,800 voters, and that it was clever enough to do just that. He set out the prospect National would lose again in 2023, 2026 and 2029.

The party needed a plan and a strategy, Key said – and hope was not a strategy.

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