Party leaders on the election campaign

Chapters on a Victoria University book reviewing the 2017 election by each of the party leaders.

Newshub – Stardust and Substance: the 2017 election through politicians’ eyes

Accounts of political events by politicians themselves can be worse than useless and should be read with great caution. Politicians are simply too close to what happened to really give any insights into events. They’re also often just too practiced in their own spin to be able to reveal any truly interesting or new information. Too often, politician accounts of election campaigns are simply their attempts to assert their own version of history for the record.

Nonetheless, the accounts of the 2017 election by the political party leaders in Stardust and Substance are all well worth reading. Some are more self-serving than others, and they vary greatly in how much they reveal that is new or useful. But all seven chapters from the party leaders help the reader understand what went on in 2017 to make it such an extraordinary election.

They are generally more self promotional than analytical.

Jacinda Ardern – ‘I remember the crunch point’: Jacinda Ardern looks back on the 2017 election

There is no doubt that 2017 will remain the most extraordinary year of my life. But a statement like that doesn’t quite capture the fact that what happened this year had layers that extended well beyond me. In that sense, before I go any further I want to acknowledge three people in particular. The first two are Andrew Kirton and Nigel Haworth. I see the president and especially the general secretary of our party as often the unsung heroes. Their work is unrelenting. They manage and motivate thousands of volunteers, manage our governing body, and ensure we have the funds to run our campaigns in the first place. I salute them.

Bill English: ‘Confident but paranoid’: Bill English reflects on election 2017

Coming into 2017 I was often asked how National, as the incumbent government, felt about the election. My standard answer was “confident but paranoid”, which, as it turned out, proved to be the right mental setting. One had only to look around the world to see that political events had become a bit more unpredictable. The fact that you couldn’t predict where the unpredictable would occur didn’t mean that it wasn’t going to happen, and of course it did.

I want to give some personal reflections on my involvement in the campaign as a leader. I think that the overriding impression for me was just how much I enjoyed it. As someone who had been unavoidably characterised in a certain way because of my finance role, it did take some time to adjust, and for public expectations to adjust, to my new role as a leader in a campaign. There are a number of reasons that I enjoyed it. First was that there was plenty to campaign for, again unusually for a party that had been in government for nine years. I had been personally strongly invested in many of the issues which were debated in the campaign – the economy, obviously, but also all the social issues, poverty, housing, water quality, and the environment, where we had done much intensive work over many years.

Winston Peters: ‘We chose the harder path’: Winston Peters on election 2017

Eight weeks out from the general election, New Zealand First was poised to challenge Labour’s status as the second largest political party – this was a sign: when things are going great you should be worried most. Polling revealed that we were statistically tied with Labour. From our perspective that day would have been a good one for the country to have voted.

It was not to be.

Labour were sagging badly but I think it is very unlikely NZ First would have overtaken them. Greens were picking uop more of Labour’s losses than NZ First.

James Shaw: When the wheels came off: James Shaw on Election 2017

My worst moment of the 2017 election came the day parliament rose to kick off the formal part of the campaign, about six weeks before election day.

Roughly 10 minutes before I had to give the Adjournment Debate speech on behalf of the Green Party, I received that evening’s Colmar Brunton poll results. We were on 4%, the first time during the campaign that we had dipped below the threshold which would see us return to parliament. And because, in many ways, the adjournment speech kicked off the formal election campaign period, it wasn’t a great way to start.

I finished the speech and my colleague Gareth Hughes came and sat down in the seat next to me. He looked at me and said, “Way to go, giving that speech, knowing what you know.” It was a really tough moment, because at that point it seemed probable that I was about to become the last leader of the Green Party and that I had just given the last speech in parliament by a Green Party MP.

David Seymour: ‘We didn’t pay enough attention to the brand’: David Seymour on Election 2017.

As a rookie MP and the sole elected member of ACT, I became the party leader and also entered the executive (as parliamentary under-secretary to the minister of education and to the minister of regulatory reform). I am told that nobody has entered parliament this way since the 19th century, when governments typically lasted only a year or two. The task of carrying off these roles as well as serving the Epsom electorate was always going to be large. In the final analysis it was too large.


  1. robertguyton

     /  September 17, 2018

    Seymour has a party ??

    • Gezza

       /  September 17, 2018

      Ok I’ve give you an uptick for that because it’s generally considered by dry wits to be able to hold its party conferences in a phone box. It’s not a big party.

      • robertguyton

         /  September 17, 2018

        Well, that’s kind, but I suspect it’s a pity-vote. If I can’t do better than a lame ACT joke, I might as well hand my card in. Now the work of artcroft and corky (below), that’s some classy adult sarcasm right there!

        • Gezza

           /  September 18, 2018

          I’ve given myself an uptick because you didn’t, and I’m bloody sensitive so that hurt a bit.

          I don’t think you get the difference between dry wit, irony and sarcasm.

          I don’t mean that as an insult, robert. That’s a tentative diagnosis. Some people, especially people who are chronically sarcastic themselves don’t.

          I don’t like sarcasm, I was vulnerable to it cutting deeply when I was young even though I knew enuf never to let on, but I certainly do my whack of ironical humour and it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference – especially for someone with a limited humour repertoire that has a strong or predominant “roast” or “insult” personal criticism component.

          You see that at at those awful celebrity US roast nights where the President of the US or some other celebrity has to pretend to enjoy sometimes denigrating jokes that go wrong and it angers them and they’re expected to larf and they don’t, or if they do everyone can see from the body language that that one hurt and they really want to smack the comedian in the moosh – and they can’t,

          Anyway – I think you’ll see this as an attack and it’s not. So i’ll stop here.

          I’m bloody luck PG can read my humour. He’s smacked me a couple of times where I thought it was a matey-joke but it didn’t look that to someone who wasn’t me or one of my whanau full of “bloody clowns” as my dear departed da called us, with his usual grin.

          Hugs n stuff

          • robertguyton

             /  September 18, 2018

            Thanks, Gezza – I’d missed seeing this comment having spent the evening at A&E sitting with a friend so I get the “diagnosis” part of your comment. By your reckoning, I lack discernment when it comes to trading jibes online; certainly others here appear to support your view, rearing up on their hind-legs and bristling at some of my comments, as they do, Pete included. Curiously, my reputation is very different on left-orientated blogs, where some of my comments are met with much praise for their humour-content, so I’m thinking this issue is site-specific and the only reasonable course of actions to relocate; wrong place, wrong time, or more likely, wrong place, wrong place. Pity, as I like jousting, using words. At TS, there are only the resident trolls to lampoon, and that’s too easy; too thin on the ground and too lumpen to put up a decent show. If I may say so, I enjoyed the chance to explore some deeper thinking regarding these perceptual matters with you. I was never offended by anything any other poster here said; water off a duck’s back and grist to the mill, but your “idiot” and “10 year-old” barbs, harmless enough in themselves, struck home because with your other comments, you seemed to have more emotional intelligence “depth”, than say, PDB (sorry) or Pink David (sorry). In any case, a tactical retreat is in order, unlike that from Iraq not chosen by the rotten Labour/NZ1 coalition Government.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 18, 2018

            Robert, if I may say so, I think you are ill-equipped to deal with political views that oppose yours. You have too much emotional investment to debate without getting hurt and your reactions don’t help you. Your head needs development to protect your heart. Best wishes.

  2. artcroft

     /  September 17, 2018

    The Green’s have a male MP called James? Who knew?

    • Corky

       /  September 17, 2018

      A pink holster slinger with five bullets in a six bullet magazine. Arty, I can’t see this hombre lasting past 2020. He will eat dust in Greensville.

  3. PDB

     /  September 17, 2018

    Ardern: “The first two are Andrew Kirton and Nigel Haworth. I see the president and especially the general secretary of our party as often the unsung heroes.”

    Was she praising them for their part in attempting to cover up sexual assault claims at the Labour youth camp?

    • Gezza

       /  September 17, 2018

      No. They pulled off an absolutely stunning & remarkable recovery from the depths of the polls at the very last minute with someone who’d only ever crashed a tractor who could finally get out in front and connect with the public, get the media completely supportive and onside, and communicate effectively. That required the sort of effort she describes and whatever shortcomings & guile or otherwise they have demonstrated since then they must have been doing a good job for Jacinda to pull Labour from the pits. She couldn’t do that alone.

  4. Gezza

     /  September 18, 2018

    In honour of the NSW Premier

    • Gezza

       /  September 18, 2018

      😮 Wrong thread ! Posted in the wrong browser tab. Meant for GC. 🙄 Soz. 😕