How hopeless is National’s current situation?

Now that National seems to have settled in the very low forties in the polls, below Labour and well below Labour+Greens+NZ First, they have a big political hill to climb before next year’s election, especially with the surge in support for Labour and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Even if either or both of Greens and NZ First miss the threshold next year Labour is in a strong position, with a leader who is widely liked versus National with leader Simon Bridges who appears to be widely disliked, or dismissed as not up to the job.

Which means National is in a weak position. This could change, but that would probably need a bad turn for the worse for labour, or for the economy. And it would probably also need National to find a new leader who is respected. Bridges is being written off by National leaning voters as much as anyone.

Matthew Hooton is either being realistic, or is trying to shock National into dumping Bridges: Jacinda Ardern on track for triumph in 2020

Moving towards the election, National will argue that a vote for NZ First is a vote for Ardern, which will be true as far as it goes. But just as truthfully, as more centre voters recognise National’s position as hopeless, Winston Peters or Shane Jones will be able to pitch that a vote for NZ First is a vote to keep the Greens out of Cabinet and major social or economic change off the table.

National now needs to face facts: it and Act are close to 20 points behind the three governing parties.

Bizarrely, some on the centre-right seem to take comfort from the most recent 1 News Colmar Brunton poll — completed before Ardern took the CGT off the table — putting National and Act on 41 per cent. They seem to overlook the fact that this puts them a full 17 points behind Labour, NZ First and the Greens, who were on a combined 58 per cent.

To put this in perspective, gaps of more than 15 points between opposition and governing blocs are exceptionally rare in New Zealand.

Were such a result to occur on election night, it would sit alongside the two worst political debacles in living memory.

By and large, National MPs remain in denial about how hopeless their position is, especially following Ardern’s CGT move.

They misunderstand that, in a country that is generally content, Ardern’s very flakiness on any substantial policy matter is one of the Coalition’s strengths.

That her every utterance is devoid of content and that her Government has no meaningful policy programme is exactly the way the median voter likes it.

Sadly for centre-right voters, it looks as if National will need to repeat its trauma of 2002 and Labour’s of 2014 before it wakes up to the magnitude of the task and difficulty of the decisions required to become a viable alternative government again.

There have been various reports recently about Bridges being poorly supported by National MPs, and numbers being counted.

But do they have the gumption to actually do anything? Or are they going to wait until it gets worse for them before they act?

There are suggestions that prospective alternate leaders see next year’s election as lost anyway so don’t want to try to step up before then. That defeatist approach is bad enough as a strategy – taking over from the captain of a sinking ship isn’t a very smart plan – but it also shows a lack of leadership potential.

Judith Collins is often suggested as waiting in the wings, but it seems that she is not liked by enough MPs to get win their confidence. So who else is there? Ardern wasn’t rated until she got elevated in an emergency situation. There could be someone in the national ranks who could do a good job of stepping up.

The problem with politics is showing good leadership skills – and intent – is frowned upon, especially by current leadership, so it is difficult to judge the abilities of all National MPs.

If the National caucus has any serious contenders hidden in their midst they should be showing leadership and try to take over before things get too bad,

Otherwise they look to be in a hopeless political situation, and just accepting that and struggling on makes them look undeserving of voter support.

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24 Comments

  1. David

     /  29th April 2019

    National might as well leave Bridges there, the only way they have a shot next time is if Labour stuff it up or Ardern quits and odds are pretty reasonable on both of those. Change of leadership at National wont improve things.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  29th April 2019

      Even National voters I know shake their head & shudder at the thought of Bridges as PM. The tv news channels are murdering his chances too.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  29th April 2019

        Threatening defamation to the political editors over ‘certain aspects’ of the JLR saga didnt make him friends in the Gallery , and he then turned on some of them who were already friendly refusing his regular spots for on the record chats telling them they were ‘hostile’.
        Joyce would have made a far better interim leader or even if English stayed longer – as was the plan, but Simon got impatient. Its not like English or Joyce have gone onto any ‘real jobs’ that national supporters say they are capable of.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  29th April 2019

          Joyce would be a ‘walk in’ at any…Zoo.

          And Bill could be handy in a shearing…gang.

          Reply
  2. Duker

     /  29th April 2019

    We have to get out of this crazy poll question – “who would make best PM.”
    No one else that im aware does this sort of question. They use The yes or No question Is such and doing a good job. eg Trumps approval ratings are below 50s. Its either approve or disapprove.
    I seem to remember it was ‘invented ‘ for Muldoon where not many ‘appoved of Muldoon’ but he was streets ahead of any one else, so his ‘numbers for being PM’ always looked good.

    This way Bridges would actually be rated on the job he has now, and I would think more realistically he would be say be 35-45%.

    national MPs would know this too , as the only number that worries some is dropping below 40% as that means some would lose their jobs from the list.

    Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  29th April 2019

    ‘That her every utterance is devoid of content and that her Government has no meaningful policy programme is exactly the way the median voter likes it.’

    this worked for the Nats for 9 years.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  29th April 2019

      Doesn’t seem to have stopped you wingeing about what Key did.

      Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  29th April 2019

    There is always a chance Jacinda will actually do something. That will of course be fatal.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  29th April 2019

      because she doesnt play golf as much as Key did , she’ hasnt done anything’ ?
      ( How much did taxpayers pay for the tournament at Micheal Hills queenstown course ?)
      Key was famously know for his lazy style of cabinet leadership and avoiding question in the house by not turning up.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  29th April 2019

        Worked for him. He probably knows something you don’t.

        Reply
      • Trevors_Elbow

         /  29th April 2019

        your reaching there… Key destroyed Cunliffe and Little in Question time…time after time. Never ducked questions. And when you have Joyce and English doing the detail work you don’t need to work extra hard around the cabinet table, you need to understand the discussion and balance the personalities.

        The difference between Ardern and Key – is Key understood business and economics, and could speak about policy fluently at the drop of a hat… Ardern knows how to wrap chips, say Comrade and work in policy units – and when taken off script in anyway falls apart…

        Keep dreaming that Key was a lightweight – he torched Labour for a decade…

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  29th April 2019

          That’s a lie. Key did duck question time . When he did show up His answering was a charade of ignoring the question… Or diversions unrelated as if he was standing comic…likely scripted lines from his office.
          That it worked for him isn’t in doubt.
          Brash worked in finance and certainly knew his economics…..politics he was a dumpbkof. Key certainly knew image matters, he should as first thing after becoming PM was to get Crosby Textor as political advisor. Luckily he had former treasury public servant Bill English as his financial brain…before the election he only did interviews with financial journalists with English as chaperone. Trump is a wealthy real estate developer but is ignorant about trade, gdp, public sector spending etc. Still thinks NATO owes US 💰

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  29th April 2019

          Key the ex forex gambler was handpicked and marketed by Crosby Textor (the agency he said he would not use)as a good sort..rags to riches ,every day Kiwi .

          He was in the mould of Reagan, a poll driven,black ops populist with an agenda .

          He entered NZ politics with a fortune estimated at 50 mil..and left with apx 3 times that and a knight hood.

          First order of his Govt was restore knighthoods ..donations from Myers ,Talley and Co was irresistible…and then pass high country pastoral lease legislation to enrich thje favoured few.

          Wonderful..guy.

          Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  29th April 2019

    There is still the small matter of the gulf between the cost of Labour’s promises and the money in their till. Eventually someone is going to be very cross about its resolution.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  29th April 2019

      When the ’empathy’ (overused word) factor wears off and JA is left floundering again over things like the CGT debacle, the polls might change.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  29th April 2019

        She stuffed up the CGT and her petulant attitude did her no favours at all. How many of her election promises has she actually kept ? Now she wants to swan off to Europe to act as trailblazer with M. Macron rather than doing what she’s paid to do here. She should make up her mind which she wants to be.

        Reply
    • Duker

       /  29th April 2019

      National borrowed money and used labour’s cillen fund now worth $40 bill as collateral to borrow even more and when they run up against prudent credit limits borrowing went off balance sheet via big spending for roads and schools.
      Eg for Transmission Gully motorway the cost to pay back the ‘owners’ will be $15 per vehicle , each way ,every day. Likely as much or more for holiday highway north of auckland

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  29th April 2019

        It’s not a holiday highway, it’s a holiday parking lot. Normal traffic is heavy with lots of trucks. They will pay the majority of the cost.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  29th April 2019

          … at least they should if charged relative to their road impact.

          Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  29th April 2019

        The present charges on the Orewa-Puhoi link pay for the money borrowed to build it at $2.40 for cars and few take the free road alternative. I don’t see why extensions should be different.

        Reply
        • duperez

           /  29th April 2019

          Of course the charges for the improvements/extensions on the road north should be exactly the same as the charges on the Waterview tunnel.

          Reply
  6. harryk

     /  29th April 2019

    ‘That her every utterance is devoid of content and that her Government has no meaningful policy programme is exactly the way the median voter likes it’

    If that’s true, it would also explain the appalling isolationism she seems to be pandering to – it appeals to voters. Nationals should grow a pair of balls and put forward an alternative narrative. The latest attacks show that Ardern’s small target approach and narrow focus on media gags has failed. It was certainly worth a try, but realistically it was never going to work because the world is too connected. Rather than doubling down on failure by running off to Macrons censors, Ardern should now admit that we sink or swim together and beef up boots on the ground. Send a couple of NZPOL to Sri Lanka like the UK and Oz. Image over substance was always going to end badly. Nationals have an opportunity to define an alternative and explain why isolationism is not in the NZ national interest. After all, it didn’t prevent the Christchurch attack. The media gags favoured by the Left more and more are coming to resemble the proverbial three monkeys – hear see and speak no evil – don’t talk about it openly and the threat will go away. If indeed isolationism is a vote winner in NZ, the Nationals will be taking a risk by telling people what they don’t want to hear. But it’s what I call leadership.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  29th April 2019

      There is no ‘atlternative narrative’ …you are seriously deluded. How do you think they stay at 40% or so . It’s by listening to the private polls on what voters think

      Reply
  1. How hopeless is National’s current situation? — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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