Politicians for better or worse in 2017

It’s that time of year when pundits give their picks on the best and worst, and winners and losers in politics for the year.

For 2017, unsurprisingly, Jacinda Ardern is as the most successful and most influential. She was instrumental in a remarkable turn around in Labour’s fortunes leading into the election campaign, was responsible for perhaps a doubling of their support, and despite still trailing National by a significant margin she negotiated Labour into Government and herself into the role of Prime Minister.

Next year Ardern will be judged on her success or failure to manage a challenging three party coalition and prove some financial credibility.

Also in the positive lists are Winston Peters, James Shaw, Bill English and Trevor Mallard.

English also features in the failures, as and Metiria Turei and the Maori Party.

English made a decent job of Prime Minister when he took over from John Key a year ago, and had a decent campaign apart from allowing the possibly disastrous fiscal hole ploy by Steven Joyce. While he and National failed to retain their place in the Beehive that may have been an impossible task given Winston’s decisive position, and may be a longer term blessing for National if the new Government fails.

While Peters will be happy enough with the end result, negotiating his and NZ First’s way into Government and the Deputy Prime Minister role, he had been aiming much higher – at one stage he openly claimed NZ First could beat Labour and was hinting of a vote in the twenties or thirties, so 7% and now slipping in the polls is far less successful than he would have liked.

Ditto Shaw, but his party’s wobbles weren’t all his doing. Greens were confident of beating NZ First and competing head to head with Labour three months out from the election, until Turei’s terrible gamble turned to custard. The Greens were at real risk of missing the threshold, but a lot of hard work from Shaw in particular got them over the line and then into Government. Not being in Cabinet may be seen by some as a failure, but as their first experience in government it is probably the safest position to be in as they gain experience in partial power.

The Maori Party totally failed, and now have some hard work to do repairing the damage and finding a way back into Parliament. They have a mess to sort out, and may still rely on Labour’s record this term if they are to stand a chance of returning.

Trevor Mallard is getting some mentions. He was virtually invisible for most of the year, until he scored his dream job as Speaker.  His efforts to improve debate and behaviour in Parliament have been praised (including by me) but it will be an ongoing battle against old habits and petulance and barking madness.

David Parker also gets a mention or two. He is the most experienced Minister and has stepped up in his roles, although not everyone is happy with his efforts on trade and the CPTPP – the left don’t like it.

Most Ministers are finding their way.

I think Tracey Martin deserves a mention, she looks to be promising, sensible and willing to work with others.

Grant Robertson is in a prominent position in the Finance portfolio, but it’s too soon to tell whether he is up to it or not. Managing to contain the pressures to spend by Ministers wanting to make a mark, and dealing with outside financial influences will be a challenge.

Chris Hipkins has a lot of responsibilities and has stumbled a bit in the House, and and has rushed into education reform which may or may not turn out well.

Simon Bridges has also had some difficulty with his antics in Parliament and needs to get his balance right.

Kelvin Davis looked uncomfortable in a leadership role.

David Seymour succeeded in getting back into Epsom, failed in getting his party to improve, and then succeeded in getting his End Of Life Choices Bill past it’s first reading in Parliament so has ended on a positive.

Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell are significant ex-MPs. Dunne jumped before he was pushed by voters (with Labour’s resurgence under Ardern that looked inevitable). Flavell failed to keep his seat and failed to keep his party in Parliament.

Hone Harawira failed to make an impact on his attempted return.

Gareth Morgan did very well with his TOP Party in some respects, and did poorly in some of his communications and interactions online, so failed, getting less than half way to the threshold.

Todd Barclay fell from grace badly.

While not an MP Matt McCarten proved again why he is more of a liability than a political asset.

New Zealand survived the year in fairly good shape financially, with enough money available (possibly) to address problems faced by the less fortunate and less well off in our society. So prospects look good unless you want to get into the housing market and don’t have much money.

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26 Comments

  1. Gerrit

     /  December 16, 2017

    Great summation. For me the two most interesting political manifestations next year will be;

    How National will seamlessly (if possible) transition to a new leadership and who will be at the head of the table to take the party forward both in opposition and as PM in 2018 or 2019 or 2020.

    How Labour/NZFirst/Greens will promote productivity increases to pay the taxes required to pay for the distribution of wealth the promised.

    • Gezza

       /  December 16, 2017

      Productivity? Grant & Jacinda say providing people with “meaningful, better paid work”, will just do that.

  2. Gezza

     /  December 16, 2017

    Golriz Gharahman deserves special mention too I reckon – spectacular bullshitter & own-foot-shooter.

  3. Ray

     /  December 16, 2017

    A very even handed coverage PG and I agree with almost all of it.
    It will be interesting to see how things change after a year in power, especially it there are any reasons for a downturn.
    The Left commentary seem to be able to forget the challenges of the last 9 years, let’s hope they/we don’t have to cope with any more in the immediate future.

  4. Blazer

     /  December 16, 2017

    At last we have a Govt that will not just sit back and watch property inflation and immigration as drivers of…GDP.Productivity was something of little concern to the previous administration.Nationals handling of the economy was seriously over rated.They tinkered without introducing any real progressive measures and bowed to corporations,Warners,Rio Tinto,SKC. ..etc pandered to the rich..Thiel,Tax lawyers,wealthy donors,and had no real vision for the future .
    Kick the can down the road was their default policy on real issues and coupled with the arrogance and disdain they showed ,they thoroughly deserved to be cast out.Long may they remain out of Govt.
    History proves,they never bring real,meaningful change.Their so called ‘open economy’ ,where NZ’s prime assets are sold off to the highest foreign bidder,undermine our sovereignty and compromise the future for our…youth.
    I’m hopeful this coalition can deliver the best governance to address the debacles inflicted by neo liberalism in the..80’s.Putting people and community ahead of the demands of corporate interests is…vital.

    • PDB

       /  December 16, 2017

      “At last we have a Govt that will not just sit back and watch property inflation and immigration as drivers of…GDP.”

      Probably why major immigration cuts have been backtracked upon by the new govt and they are doing nothing meaningful to address property inflation.

      Blazer: “History proves, they never bring real, meaningful change. Their so called ‘open economy’ ,where NZ’s prime assets are sold off to the highest foreign bidder (mainly under David Lange), undermine our sovereignty (Foreshore and seabed under Helen Clark) and compromise the future for our…youth (this govt giving no-obligation free money to students).

      • Gezza

         /  December 16, 2017

        Shaddup ya bloody whinging. I’ve given him an uptick for a decent, multiple paragraph, considered post with only one effing ellipsis.

        • Gezza

           /  December 16, 2017

          Whoops – soz – about 3 & a couple of half ellipses, but it’s still a damn good effort for Blazer 👍🏼

        • Conspiratoor

           /  December 16, 2017

          Blazer doesn’t do ellipses

        • PDB

           /  December 16, 2017

          I prefer Blazer’s ignorance to be displayed in smaller postings.

          • Blazer

             /  December 16, 2017

            and then criticise him for..one liners and no..substance.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 16, 2017

              He thinks that he is doing ellipses, and nobody can convince him that he is just putting in dots in irrelevant places. It’s like a speaker pausing in between every few words to make himself sound important.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  December 16, 2017

    Fairly good shape financially … unless you IGNORE the housing market …

    And, of course, we could measure the ‘shape’ our society is in using many ‘metrics’ other than money … if we had the f#*ken courage to do so …

    • Gezza

       /  December 16, 2017

      Grant & Jacinda have recently said they are establishing a working group (or advisory panel, can’t remember) to work out how we will in future measure the wellbeing of New Zealand in more ways than just the via the bog-standard economic indicators.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 16, 2017

        How else can you do it ? It would be appallingly complex to do it any other way.

        If they think this, why are they playing Santa and dishing out money that they seem to delude themselves will go where it’s meant to go ?

        • Gezza

           /  December 16, 2017

          I think there’s an element of wishful thinking & a smidgeon of “suck it & see”, but not to worry, there’s a whole army of loyal government servants producing BIMs for them that say it needs to be done! And probably only about 3 people in Treasury having nervous breakdowns.

        • Gezza

           /  December 16, 2017

          How else can you do it ? It would be appallingly complex to do it any other way.

          There’ll be heaps of additional ways of measuring national wellbeing. Make it someone’s job to go looking for alternative metrics & it won’t take long to find them. There’s no reason why both bog-standard economic measures & other, social data & metrics can’t be reported on separately or together.

          As we used to tell our managers when I was a business analyst – “anything’s possible, it’s just how much do you want to pay?”

        • Blazer

           /  December 16, 2017

          your last paragraph is very poor English…very disappointing.

  6. Zedd

     /  December 16, 2017

    I just watched the end of year ‘The Nation Special’ (boozy Xmas lunch, full of MPs & Journos) The best comment I heard (from a journo) was “Jacinda is the Phoenix rising from the ashes, of the old Labour” (paraphrased) I agree 100%

    Then there is the two-time Loser (B E), the Maori party & Metiria (BUT her ‘demise’ has seen the Greens achieve something they never could before; Ministers in Govt. !!)

    btw; on The Nation, a journo said he too had heard the whispers that many of ‘the Old Guard in Natl’ (front & mid-benches) will be gone before 2020 & replaced by many of the ‘newbies chomping at the bit’ for better seats ? 😀 😀

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 16, 2017

      What a mixed metaphor, newbies champing (yes, I do mean champing, this saying is English) at the bit.

      The phoenix and ashes is hardly original.