Rating the parties for 2012

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 5/10

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.

UnitedFuture 7/10

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.

Act 3/10

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 3/10

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.

Greens 8/10

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.


  1. Darryl

     /  November 29, 2012

    My summing up of your ratings, would be John Key/ National 8 out of 10.
    and Greens 5 out of 10. Most of what the Greens propose is hypothetical. The rest of the ratings would be pretty close for me.

    • I’m not judging their policies, I’m rating their performance this year.

      Greens have done very well and have had a successful year – clearly outperforming Labour and NZF (and Norman has clearly outperformed Shearer and Peters).

      National are widely considered to have underperformed in too many ways, that’s why I think they should get more than a barely pass mark. Very vulnerable and much room for improvement.

      • Darryl

         /  November 29, 2012

        I hear your theory Pete, but let’s face it, how can you rate a party high, when quite frankly they are absurd. I think John Key/National have done extremely well, under great duress from the opposition parties. The Left oppose everything, there not interested in the country as a whole, just themselves. Lets keep everyone down and out, bare foot and pregnant is there motto, which I am venomously against. We are not rich, but we look at the BIG picture, not just ourselves, and on that alone, I put National right up there, and applaud there Welfare reform, this country needs a change of culture, and people need to understand the Government is not a Bank, handing out peoples taxes from hard working Kiwi’s.

      • Darryl, personally I’m generally more inclined towards National’s policies and realism than the Greens, but that’s not what I’ve judged.

        National have grappled with a difficult economy, they have had some real difficilties (eg in education), they haven’t handled the MOM as well as they could, and Key has had a mixed year. It’s been tough. They have struggled more than in previous years and things haven’t gone as well as they would have liked.

        The Greens have done as well as anyone could have expected, better than most. They have risen to be seen as the most effective opposition party, and they have the most effective opposition leader. They have improved their number of MPs and their standing in parliament.

        Green supporters should be happy with (and proud of) their year. They are in the best position they have been in with the potential to go further. National supporters should be a bit concerned about their missteps and worried about their prospects.

  2. Disagree with the ratings for New Zealand First – I would give them 7/10. The reason why New Zealand First is struggling to make an impression is because Fairfax media outlet avoid writing about New Zealand First as much as they can. You might see a line “New Zealand First also wants an inquiry”, but it doesn’t go into their rationale for it and is often right at the end of the article. If you go to the website http://www.inthehouse.co.nz, which has video clips of M.P.’s in Parliament you will actually see that their M.P.’s are quite busy. Tracey Martin is very good at speaking about education and the research, science and technology portfolio.

    http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/16282 – Tracey Martin on research, science and technology
    http://inthehouse.co.nz/node/15010 – Richard Prosser on biosecurity

    There are twelve questions available in the House, and most of the time the ones allocated to New Zealand First are used by the Leader, Winston Peters.

    But to say that New Zealand First is struggling is only true insofar as Fairfax are not giving them decent airtime. With the exception of Denis O’Rourke, all of the M.P.’s have Facebook pages. Some also have Twitter accounts.

    They are definitely busy. But thanks to the media’s non-attention you have to go looking for the evidence.

    • Fair comment Robert, perhaps NZF are doing as well as they can as an Opposition party with nearly all MPs being rookies. Unless an MP is controversial they can struggle to get noticed, as Winston well knows.

      Twitter and Facebook are useful but are transitary and can operate in isolation from all the other bubbles of online activity. I follow most political media and MPs in Twitter and don’t see much sign of NZF. I see little of NZF in the big political blogs apart from others commenting on the party or MPs.

      “But thanks to the media’s non-attention you have to go looking for the evidence.”

      Most people won’t go looking very much, so you have to push it out there and build networks.