Bill English has had an inauspicious start to election year. He has been hammered this week for his tardiness and lack of response to Donald Trump’s immigration orders. As Prime Minister he needed to be careful, but he needed to be seen to say something, much faster.
Yesterday he got some attention when he announced the election date – September 23. He also gave some hints about his approach to the election and it’s aftermath.
Meanwhile some of the themes – and be prepared to be bored by them before too long – have started to emerge.
English’s one word summary was “growth”. But he also hammered the leftward drift and policy-free plans of Labour and the Greens … and seemed to love the suggestion that they were all about the “vibe” – though that was one reporter’s commentary on the Labour-Green state of the nation speeches, not something the parties themselves were saying.
On the other side, Labour and the Greens are hammering English’s lack of “leadership” – on anything from his limp response to Donald Trump’s immigration announcements to not going to Waitangi and not standing a candidate in Mt Albert.
It’s a two-pronged message; to make English look weak and remind voters that the leader they liked so well – Key – is no longer there.
Sam Sachdeva at Stuff: Economy to take centre stage at September 23 election, PM Bill English says
Prime Minister Bill English saying the economy will be at the heart of National’s bid for a fourth term.
That’s very unsurprising.
“New Zealand is well placed compared to many other countries. That’s down to the hard work of households and businesses across the country, backed by the National-led Government’s clear and successful plan for our future.
“The challenge for our country now is to sustain that growth and build on it to deliver more again for all New Zealanders.”
Asked to sum up the election in one word, English replied, “Growth”.
He believed it was unlikely immigration would be a major issue at the election, with all forecasts indicating there would be a slowdown in the number of immigrants arriving.
English said National’s preference was to work with its current partners – UnitedFuture, ACT, and the Maori Party.
While describing Winston Peters’ party as “an inward-looking party who believe in a closed-up New Zealand”, English would not “rule in or out” choosing Peters as deputy prime minister.
Today English will give his ‘State of the Nation’ speech, and he promises a contrast with Labour and the Greens, saying he will actually announce major policy.
Tune into Prime Minister Bill English‘s Facebook page from 12.30pm today as he live streams his first speech of the year.
This is Bill’s first big test as a lead campaigner. Expectations are that he will be competing with Andrew Little on boredom.