This is my view of how the parties have performed over the first term, based on an outsider’s media and online impressions as an interested follower of politics, plus some interaction with some MPs via Twitter and emails.
National have attended to the key things steadily and competently – they have continued to manage the economy in an extended period of difficult worldwide conditions. So they get a pass mark overall. But balanced against that are a number of poorly managed issues, especially in education, and difficulties dealing with their MOM asset programme (although that was predictable) and the ongoing Dotcom dealings.
Online – their interaction is sparse. John Key’s ID is used for party PR (I don’t expect him to have time to spend online). Stephen Joyce uses Twitter for diary announcements. Tau Henare is active but it’s mostly trivial. There’s occasional bits and pieces from others. Judith Collins has dipped her toes in Twitter and has seemed to genuinely attempt to engage. Very little email response from National MPs, and they are not visible in the blogosphere.
Maori Party 7/10
The Maori Party keep achieving what they can as a reliable part of the coalition government, but maintaining their independence by voting against National and for their ideals and committed positions. They are not very visible online (Te Ururoa Flavell tweets a bit) nor much in media but that’s not where they need to be to engage with their constituency.
Peter Dunne has a very heavy workload in a one MP party, representing an electorate (in which he is active) and as a minister. As usual does what’s required reliably and industriously, and he is active online, engaging on Twitter and Facebook. He does his parliamentary and electorate jobs capably, but has a challenge reviving his party.
John Banks had a very difficult reintroduction to MP duties due to excessive media coverage and hasn’t risen above this. He has also been dogged by his Dotcom dealings. Seen as little more than a proxy for National. I acknowledge that after a long absence it was a huge task returning to parliament and setting up office in a gutted party. Much to do for Banks and Act to survive.
Labour have continued their disappointing last term non-recovery. They are struggling with an impatient party that feels alientated from caucus, and David Shearer has failed to measure up as a great fresh hope – the measure is heading downwards. A dysfunctional caucus, maverick MPs, poorly prepared policies and botched hit jobs all make 3/10 seen generous.
A number of Labour MPs are active online, some doing well and engaging but with a few notable embarrassments. Their Red Alert blog is ineffective. Some will respond to emails.
They have to deal with major dissent and competing factions, plus some interesting changes to their selection rules. Much to do.
The Green Party grown it’s parliamentary footprint, they have grown in stature with Russel Norman’s leadership in particular significantly outshining all other opposition leaders. New MPs have added to their strengths. They have some challenges proving the viability of some of their policies and selling themselves to a wider (non-adoring) audience but have made excellent progress.
Their biggest problem is being seen as a party that wants to ban too much and wants to impose their social ideals on everyone. They should work on addressing these to maintian their gains.
Their MPs and party are the most active online through their blog, Twitter and social media and they will engage, and will respond to emails.
New Zealand First 4/10
Struggling to make a decent impression. Winston Peters tries hard in Parliament and challenges the Government at times but is not the dogged Winston of the past, he often seems dog-tired and battling with motivation.
The rest of the MPs seem to be minor shadows under the wily but wilting wizard.
Not much online, Richard Prosser tweets a bit but little of significance. Early email response have tailed off.
Mana Party 4/10
Harawira mostly works within his own realm and seems to be maintaining a following but only sometimes comes out into the open – sometimes controversially. Little impression in parliament (difficult for a one MP party). He may maintain a niche but could struggle to grow beyond that. Active on Facebook and one of several Twitter accounts is active.
If any parties or MPs want to respond please comment, or email – petedgeorge at gmail.com – and I’ll post it.