National launches, Labour squabbles

Tracy Watkins compares the National and Labour starts to election year in National takes the inside running as Labour hobbles election-year start.

Two things happened after Bill English named the election date that should worry his opponents.

National used its advantage to hit the ground running – promising more cops, whacking petrol companies about the head with an inquiry into pricing, and wiping historic homosexuality convictions.

Meanwhile, Labour squandered its good start to the year.

Leader Andrew Little read his MPs the riot act over caucus discipline, after MPs and the party were at odds over Little’s promise of a seat for broadcaster Willie Jackson.

Only one of these parties looks like it’s ready for an election.

National has shown it will be ruthless about neutralising contentious issues between now and September 23. Business as usual, in other words.

Labour, despite claiming it’s ready to fight an election any time, is doing a good job of looking as if it’s still got other stuff on its mind, like settling internal power struggles.

National didn’t have a good start to the year. They handled the US immigration restrictions poorly. However they have reacted to that by setting up MBIE to monitor events in the US so they are better prepared for anything that may effect New Zealand.

But then the contrasts between National and Labour began.

English quietly impressed at Ratana while Labour squabbled with NZ First and the Maori Party.

Little’s ‘state of the nation’ speech symbolically accentuated their marriage to and reliance on the Greens but was absent any new policy and ignored Maori issues that a week earlier Little claimed were very important to Labour at Ratana.

English used his ‘state of the nation’ speech to set up National’s election year and included a major policy (actually it was more than just policy as the Government will start implementing it this year), a substantial increase in police numbers.

Labour responded by claiming National stole their policy and it was being implemented too late. The were left playing the lame card.

Then Little tried to score points over English’s decision not to attend Waitangi on Waitangi Day but I think many people will have agreed with English’s stand against the Te Tii nonsense (which was effectively supported by Winston Peters and others).

English quietly impressed in Auckland instead – see Two remarkable speeches almost ignored.

And Labour’s year turned to custard. Little used Waitangi to announce his recruitment of Willie Jackson, with a promise of a high list placing, and Labour and the left went to war. The so called unity in the Labour caucus was very publicly discredited.

And the biggest left wing blogs, The Standard and The Daily Blog, also went to war, against Labour and against each other.

In the meantime the Greens stoically continued their strategy of promoting Labour and Greens as a reason to ‘change the government’.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the Mt Albert by-election, with the main contenders being Labour’s Jacinda Ardern versus Green’s Julie Anne Genter.

While Ardern plays the celebrity circuit she looks shallow as a politician and lacking in ambition, she seems to be there for the ride with no intention of driving.

In contrast Genter is solid on policy, especially on transport which is a big issue in Auckland.

So while Labour and the Greens claimed the campaign would be good publicity for their joint general election strategy it may end up highlighting a show pony versus a work horse.

While National struts it’s thoroughbred ability to last the distance, which could easily be another three years.

A lot could happen between now and September’s election. English or National could really stuff something up, but so far their election strategy looks smart and sound.

Little could finally find a formula that shows him as a capable leader, and Labour could sack all their strategists and speech writers and start again with a credible and stable campaign.

But they plus Greens don’t just have to look better than National now, they have quite a bit of damage to undo. Quickly.


  1. Currently English is looking composed and thoughtful, Little is looking hapless.

  2. lurcher1948

     /  February 11, 2017

    If you think so Pete,i think Andrew is tired of the feminist/gay block dominating labour and see that people are turned off by the female/feminist quota. Willie J is a fine choice with real world experience.Bill,on the other hand is a fine bean counter with a droll personalty,a JK he isn’t…just saying.

  3. lurcher1948

     /  February 11, 2017

    What ever,i probably will never vote national adrift as a voter.

  4. lurcher1948

     /  February 11, 2017

    PG tell the wimps who disagree with me to post a rebuttel instead of YOU moderating me thats a new thought “THIS POST IS MODERATED”

  5. lurcher1948

     /  February 11, 2017

    Still waiting folks 12 down tikes no rebuttals moderated seems like a right wing blog, not from the center,,,im ready for a rebuttal,,,waiting waiting

    • Gezza

       /  February 11, 2017

      Hang on I’ll have a read of that wiki link.

      • Gezza

         /  February 11, 2017

        That’s actually an impressive resumé Lurch. I didn’t give you a downtick. Just gave your post an uptick. I’m guessing the objectors are not impressed with his party-hopping & roast busters gaffe.

        Or your put down of Bill English, which I don’t agree with personally, & I’m from the centre too.

        Anyway, leaving it up to others to see if they’ve got any balls, figuratively speaking. 👍

  6. I had a good rebuttal yesterday but lost it sadly. It was the generic, anti roast buster call and accompanied by beating drums and weeping violins. Anyway it’s gone now, but I’ll give you some less impressive shorthand.

    WJ is not of good or sound character. He is not a natural Labour man and parachuting him over the heads of others who are makes no sense. It’s a wrong call in all respects. He disrespects anyone who doesn’t agree with his narrow, bigoted viewpoint. He has proven himself to be cruel and misogynistic and tells young girls if they behaved “better” they wouldn’t get raped. His views are anachronistic at best and medieval at the other end. Contrary to what Mad Matt and Little thought, Waitakere man doesn’t like him and newsflash – Labour already has urban Māori.

    Andrew Little has shown us who HE is, both with this foolhardy endorsement and his treatment of an elected, (as opposed to himself) , spokesman who rightly stood her principled ground as it pertained to both her shadow portfolio and her values.

    This has lost him the election.

    • Blazer

       /  February 12, 2017

      premature ebillition .has your mother got over Key resigning yet?Billys looking good so far,off to the gay parade ,just hope he doesn’t start pulling….ponytails.Any news on former Nat M/P Sabin lately…..?

  1. National launches, Labour squabbles – NZ Conservative Coalition