Muller’s move centre may divide National

Todd Muller gave a speech yesterday in an attempt to position his leadership of National – “kind, competent and bold” – in the political centre, but he is struggling to be seen as competent or bold, and he will have problems competing with Jacinda Ardern on kindness.

National’s official promo of his speech: Todd Muller outlines National’s first term priorities

Creating tens of thousands of new full-time jobs and building a better economy than before the Covid-19 crisis will be National’s top priorities in its first term, Leader of the Opposition Todd Muller told his home community of Te Puna today.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Te Puna Rugby Club, referencing everything from his high-level foreign policy priorities to water management policy, Mr Muller said his Government’s approach to day-to-day economic management would be based on that of his friends, colleagues and mentors, the Rt Hon. Sir John Key, the Rt Hon. Sir Bill English and the Hon. Steven Joyce.

“The story of the next three years will initially be about a desperate attempt to protect all our families from the worst effects of the worst economic downturn any of us has ever known – and then it will be about building a better economy than we had before.

“New Zealanders trust National Governments to come to power at times of economic crisis and to steer New Zealand safely through them.

“However proud we are of how our Team of Five Million addressed the health crisis, we cannot risk a Labour Government being in charge of the economic and unemployment crisis ahead.”

Mr Muller said he backed his strong National Party team over the Prime Minister’s clumsy and incompetent ministers to get New Zealand through the crisis.

According to Infometrics, 40,000 jobs were destroyed in the first wave of the economic and unemployment crisis in April, to be followed by another 80,000 in the second wave before the election. A third wave is also expected before Christmas, which Mr Muller fears will be the worst of all.

“Around 120,000 families will have lost their income by the election and it will be worse by Christmas,” he said.

“National’s prudent economic management, plus our new initiatives like JobStart, will immediately create the conditions for tens of thousands of new real, permanent full-time jobs.

“The practice of the last 20 years of working groups flying around before governments get on with helping New Zealanders is over. The game’s up, because Covid-19 has shown us that the Wellington bureaucracy can in fact move much faster when it needs to.”

They are promoting this coverage:

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The Spinoff Bulletin: Muller makes his pitch for the middle

The pitch was very much one aimed at the middle of the electorate. Among the commitments, the NZ Herald reports he promised to never either raise taxes or cut benefits if elected, and signalled continued investment in social services and the welfare safety net. It’s not exactly stuff that will set the world on fire, and is arguably pretty indistinguishable from the sitting government, but it’s good to have on the record all the same.

After the setup, Muller got to his main point – he argued that National will be much better at managing the recovery than the incumbent government. In the pitch, the reason for that was not so much ideological and being based on competency – Muller said that the government had a poor record of delivering on big projects.

This sounds like same old from National.

There was also something of an olive branch to Māori. Muller was clear that he saw the Treaty of Waitangi as the nation’s founding document, discussed the connections between tino rangatiratanga and his party’s view of the world, and talked up the work of Whānau Ora by the last government. In this area, the speech was in sharp contrast to previous efforts by National leaders to define themselves, such as Don Brash’s infamous Orewa speech in 2004. It may not necessarily matter though, as many of Muller’s early controversies have been pretty tone-deaf in this area, most notably the selection of an all-Pākehā caucus top-10.

And this won’t help:

So Muller is going one way politically, but much of his party may be heading in a different direction. 

Politiik: Muller goes one way; his party another

National’s new leader Todd Muller set out yesterday to answer critics who had charged that his “Make America Great Again” cap and the absence of any Maori on his new front bench pointed to him being tone-deaf on racial matters. But within hours of him making a speech in his home town of Te Puna  in front of a Tina Rangatiratanga flag, his party was once again rejecting one of its ethnic MPs for an electorate nomination.

The party’s candidate for the heavily Polynesian South Auckland new electorate of Takanini is a Sydney-born Lebanese who migrated to New Zealand eight years ago, Rima Nakhle. Ms Nakhle beat Samoan sitting list MP, Agnes Loheni for the selection.

This is the second time this election cycle that National has passed over a sitting list MP of colour for selection.

Newman is a controversial figure within the National Party and was rejected at the pre-selection stage for his own bid to get the Hunua nomination in 2014. (The National Party conducts  pre-selection interviews  with candidates and checks their backgrounds before they send a shortlist of candidates to a selection meeting.) Newman enjoys the support of right-wing blogger Cameron (“Whaleoil”) Slater and since his own defeat in 2014 has become known within the party as an effective organiser capable of marshalling the number of delegates needed to gain a nomination.

Predictable Slater continues his anti-National campaign today: No Point in Voting National, They’re Just like Labour. He has an obvious agenda and a lot of spite.

Harman:

What makes the events at Takinino potentially worrying for the party is that they would seem to fly in the face of the image of National that Muller presented at Te Puna.

Helensville MP, Chris Penk, who is a social-conservative and Bridges supporter, has just published a 130-page book which is predominantly an attack on the way the Government managed the Covid-19 lockdown. But Penk also defends Bridges and the confrontational approach he adopted during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Muller’s decision to move the party to the left, closer to the centre, makes perfect strategic sense. It means he can now contest Labour from the centrist vote knowing that ACT can absorb some of the right-wing votes that might previously have gone to National.

But whether the party members at large or even some of the caucus understand this yet, is another matter.

Muller seems to have a long way to go to win over his own party let alone the political centre.

Those who are listening to him (or at least commenting on him) seem to be disgruntled people who will never be happy with National or any party that isn’t hard right, while big centre vote is unlikely to be very interested in what Muller says. It could be a tough campaign for him.

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43 Comments

  1. Griff.

     /  15th June 2020

    I am sure they used focus groups and polling to help them decide on a leader.
    They are very much aware that pandering to a fringe Conservative faction is not going to get National elected.
    No matter how much our out of touch “Ok boomer” commentators believe otherwise.

    Voting Act a liberal party at hart is not going to get the outcome the discontent Colons Conservative voters from 2014 and the vote Peters to teach national a lesson from 2017 fringe want.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  15th June 2020

      ”Voting Act a liberal party at heart is not going to get the outcome the discontent Colons Conservative voters from 2014 and the vote Peters to teach National a lesson from 2017 fringe want.”

      Of course not. But it can divide and force change. There are many social and economic trends starting to grate on many people at the moment. When people have had a real GUTS FULL, they will cast a protest vote..and the Left won’t be the place they go. To get those votes National will have to differentiate themselves. Simon was heading in that direction.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  15th June 2020

        And yet Simon was tanking himself & National in the polls. So what was he getting wrong?

        Reply
        • Corky

           /  15th June 2020

          Most things if you think about it. However, things have changed, with the worst to come. If I remember correctly, National was solid in the polls before Covid struck?
          However, Simon’s rating as leader was abysmal.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  15th June 2020

            National was starting to slide, by my recollection. It’s an inevitable result of having an unpopular leader.

            Little was having the same dragging effect on Labour pre-Ardern.

            “Most things if you think about it” suggests to me that you can’t really put your finger on it. You were ever so excited about “Kid Raptor” & his “hard line” policy on lawn order.

            Al described him I think as “tone deaf” with “poor judgement” more than once. To me both of those kind of explain it to some extent. He got himself locked into “old” policies with no notable new ones, barking at every passing car policy of the government’s when some of them could have been ignored, & I think JLR probably did him some irreparable damage of the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” variety – notwithstanding that it’s Ross who’ll be in the dock. So far.

            Bridges’s appalling accent really damaged the blighter too. Imo.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  15th June 2020

              “Most things if you think about it” suggests to me that you can’t really put your finger on it.”

              1- Not connecting with with most sections of society, if any.
              2- Barking at every passing car.
              3- Lack of policy release (in my opinion).
              4-Not checking the facts before opening his mouth. Poor judgement.
              5- Naivety; both political and social.
              6- And most importantly: failure to accept or perceive he was not leadership material. He could have set himself up to be more influential in National if he’d listened to the in-house rumours he must surely have heard before he got the chop.

              I have noted things we both agree on. I would also add, Covid did National in. I doubt the polls would be what they are now without Covid.
              The same goes for Trump. Almost a certain bet for a second term. One virus and a dead black dude and Trump may be history.

              ”You were ever so excited about “Kid Raptor” & his “hard line” policy on lawn order.”

              Yes, I was, Gezza. That’s because I care about innocent victims of crime.
              Unlike others, I don’t give a fugg about criminals. Everyone has a choice.
              Criminals have made theirs. The harder any government is on crime…the better I will feel.

            • Gezza

               /  15th June 2020

              Good reply.

              On lack of policy release, his problem, like Muller’s, would have been that if he released it too early & it clearly gained popular traction he was always at risk of it getting pirated by Labour around election time.

              His inability to connect with the public was not for lack of trying. He turned up at everything & even did plenty of family man women’s mag items.

              The most common common explanation I seem to recall was that he was “inauthentic”. Got off to a bad start on first selection by telling everyone he & Paula were Maori when they both seemed about as authentically Maori as a plastic tiki.

              That points back to his poor judgement.

              The dogged arrogance you describe was certainly there & was probably what saw him off in the end.

              But – odd though it might seem – I reckon that truly painful diction of his, that was murder on the ears, probably was the real killer with the public.

            • Duker

               /  15th June 2020

              Policies are for nerds and just get in the way before an election.
              I well remember the 2014 National Housing Policy – sell off state houses- was released right after they won, the Sunday when Bill English mentioned it.
              Something about not enough time before polling day or some other waffle.
              Best of all the media swallowed it as they were prone to do for all of Keys tactics

          • Griff.

             /  15th June 2020

            Most things if you think about it. However, things have changed, with the worst to come. If I remember correctly,

            https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/Opinion_polling_for_the_2020_New_Zealand_general_election.svg
            Greens plus labor have had the majority under our system since well before Covid
            AKA
            You live in lala land .
            [Deleted]
            What is interesting is the fact you regularly get upvoteded by others who live in the same alt universe.

            Reply
            • Corky

               /  15th June 2020

              ”What is interesting is the fact you regularly get upvoteded by others who live in the same alt universe.”

              As a matter of fact I don’t get upvoted. The upvotes is piss taking by liberals. You may have noticed when they aren’t around I get no votes.

              What is it with votes and fringe dwellers like you?

              ”Greens plus Labour have had the majority under our system since well before Covid.”

              Yeah..I kind of got that impression National had a partnership problem.

            • Griff.

               /  15th June 2020

              If I remember correctly, National was solid in the polls before Covid struck?
              Yeah..I kind of got that impression National had a partnership problem.

              I kind of get the impression you can not keep your story straight between comments .
              ………….
              Who needs reality when you can just make it up as you go along ?

            • Corky

               /  15th June 2020

              Please explain?

            • Duker

               /  15th June 2020

              When was May before the lockdown?

  2. John J Harrison

     /  15th June 2020

    Muller’s hapless attempt to ignite a faltering campaign was both insipid and grossly underwhelming.
    Jacinda could have written the speech and no one would have been any the wiser.
    Muller has left the door open for Winston Peters to join National in a coalition.
    This will ensure the polls will show a sharp uptick for NZ First and a further slide for National.
    Where are their principles and where are their policies to address the coming depression?
    How can you promise no welfare cuts nor tax increases when you have a bloated civil service and a sharply reduced tax take ?
    Where does National under Muller stand on property rights, the increasing racism toward non- Maori, the total abdication of our police force in enforcing the laws that parliament wrote to be adhered to ?
    Zimbabwe here we come !

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th June 2020

      Don Brash was rejected by the party years ago for the pragmatic John Key…why would they go back to appeasing a narrow sectional interest like you describe.
      Under normal circumstances the right and centre right would have their own parties in NZ under MMP and you might have that sort of group in parliament ( just as the left and centre left have). For various reasons the money and people only go to National, which has few real principles ( Christchurch earthquake aftermath showed they would push aside property rights and right to go to court, not even for saving lives.- strangely its was labour which eventually got red zone property owners who got the full ‘land value’ paid out- Go figure?)

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  15th June 2020

      Zimbabwe here we come !

      A lot of your comment above I can take on board & mull over, but that one’s ridiculous. Try & keep it real!

      Reply
      • Brian Johnston

         /  15th June 2020

        Gezza wrong, Harrison almost spot. Except, Rhodesia here we come.

        New Zealand and Australia are both being taken down.

        The plan is plain to see though very few perceive its meaning. Douglas Reed

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  16th June 2020

          “Douglas Lancelot Reed (11 March 1895 – 26 August 1976) was a British journalist, playwright, novelist and author of a number of books of political analysis. His book Insanity Fair (1938) was one of the most influential in publicising the state of Europe and the megalomania of Adolf Hitler before the Second World War.

          By the time of his death, Reed had been largely forgotten except for various remarks about Jews. Thus, when The Times ran his obituary, it condemned Reed as a “virulent anti-Semite,” although Reed himself claimed that he drew a distinction between opposition to Zionism and antisemitism.

          Reed believed in a long-term Zionist conspiracy to impose a world government on an enslaved humanity. He was also staunchly anti-Communist, and once wrote that National Socialism was a “stooge or stalking horse ” meant to further the aims of the “Communist Empire.”

          In the 1960s Reed was outspoken in his opposition to the decolonization of Africa. In his The Battle for Rhodesia (1966) he explicitly compared decolonization to the above-mentioned appeasement of Hitler; he strongly supported Ian Smith’s unilateral declaration of independence from the United Kingdom, arguing that Smith’s Rhodesia had to be defended as “the last bulwark against the Third World War”, just as Czechoslovakia should have been defended against Hitler in 1938.”

          Sounds like a pommy “born to rule” white supremacist. Should’ve moved to the US South. NZ has as much in common with Rhodesia demographically speaking as Samoa has with NZ.

          Reply
          • Brian Johnston

             /  16th June 2020

            As you describe, Douglas Reed, a great guy. White British communists took down Rhodesia. Mugabe took over, murdered Nkomo’s people. Name change to Zimbabwe and now bankrupt, as planned.
            South Africa destroyed by the Joe Slovo led communist ANC. SA finished.
            Heading to bankruptcy, as planned.
            New Zealand and Australia next.
            Aust. closed its auto industry, crazy stuff.
            Don’t mock ‘conspiracies’. There are facts involved.
            The conspiracy to install a one world government is on going.
            Consider Parliamentarians for World Order now called Parliamentarians for Global Action.

            Reply
  3. Patzcuaro

     /  15th June 2020

    A tweet from Larry Sabato, fyi Good has just displaced Rep Riggleman as GOP candidate in Virginia’s 5th district dragging the GOP further to the right.

    Dragging the National Party to the right isn’t an election winning strategy.

    Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  15th June 2020

    I had to click on the link to find out who “Newman” is & how he is related to Rima Nakhle being selected over Agnes Loheni for the Takanini electorate:

    “Nakhle is believed to have had the backing of Auckland Councillor Daniel Newman.

    Newman is a controversial figure within the National Party and was rejected at the pre-selection stage for his own bid to get the Hunua nomination in 2014. (The National Party conducts pre-selection interviews with candidates and checks their backgrounds before they send a shortlist of candidates to a selection meeting.)

    Newman enjoys the support of right-wing blogger Cameron (“Whaleoil”) Slater and since his own defeat in 2014 has become known within the party as an effective organiser capable of marshalling the number of delegates needed to gain a nomination.”

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  15th June 2020

      Oh. How embarrassing. 😮 No I didn’t. I see that’s IN PG’s post. 😰
      I need a strong coffee. 😐

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  15th June 2020

        Oh no, it’s ok. The fact that Newman is an Auckland councillor & was strongly backing Nakhle is the missing bit I had to find out.

        I don’t know much about Loheni, but I get impression she doesn’t shine. I expect it’s often a tricky choice for parties at selection whether to choose a candidate because of their ethnicity rather than their ability or likely competence as a potential Minister.

        Labour seems to have gone for this option. It paid off in getting them some votes but has also got them some piss poor Ministers.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  15th June 2020

        Those electorates the other side of the motorway like Takanini arent ‘heavily Polynesian’ as suggested. Its a lot of ‘expensive’ ( but moderate by Auckland standards) new housing, favored by new migrants, my Indian neighbours moved there a few years back to a new house. Luxons electorate is next door to Takanini. There isnt an electorate profile online to confirm demographics.
        However for Botany, part of which is carved off for Takinini its says
        “According to the 2013 Census a majority (50.2%) of the Botany electorate was born overseas, the highest proportion of any general electorate. Botany also has the highest proportions of: people with Asian ethnicity (39.7%); those with a Buddhist religious affiliation (4.8%); households with two cars (46.2%).”
        This likely why Nakhle got the nod. Loheni is samoan christian conservative and not ‘fitting the electorate profile’. Shell have to run again in Mangere where she does, but not have a change and being down on the list, came into parliament with retirements, will miss out this time.

        Reply
  5. David

     /  15th June 2020

    The problem I have with Muller is that there is no recession, depression, end of days we have come out of the lockdown and its damn busy and bouyant out here. It feels like a February after the long summer holidays.
    There is an optimism around the place and there is far more ground to be made in fiscal responsibility when there is no point in Ardern splurging billions and leaving the next generation with huge debt.
    Mullers problem in September is not going to be if he is woke enough, if he cares for the planet enough, is he kind and culturally sensitive and takes a knee his problem is outright apathy. How is he going to persuade a luke warm National voter out of bed and down to the ballot box if his environment policy is in line with the Greens, his social policy in line with Labour and he wants to add to the debt with his ridiculous job start nonsense.

    Reply
  6. John J Harrison

     /  15th June 2020

    Your first sentence clearly demonstrates that you currently reside in Australia.
    Get real, we are in for the worst depression since the 1930’s.

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  15th June 2020

      … and by God, we’re going to talk ourselves into it and do everything from here on to make it happen … 😊

      Reminds me a bit of weeks back in some American states with Covid-19 clearly not past the critical point. In street interviews on being asked about gathering in crowds, with no masks in sight “We’re all going to die anyway,” was a common response.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th June 2020

      ” we are in for the worst depression since the 1930’s”
      That was the GFC 2008-12.
      Get real , they are pumping money and credit into the system to bounce back. No one is going to repeat the mistake of the 30s depression on cutting wages and spending and refusal till labour was elected in 1935 to properly boots the economy.
      Muller is only doing what the Curia polls are telling him and certainly isnt going to run an ACT type political agenda, especially as they are on track to get 35-40 seats with current polling instead of the 55 they have now

      Reply
  7. Alan Wilkinson

     /  15th June 2020

    I’m afraid Muller is a political idiot. So far everything he does endorses Jacinda and makes her look better rather than challenges her. National is heading for a hiding.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  15th June 2020

      That was goimg to happen anyway….. they are about saving MPs – the newbies mainly- now.
      By positioning themselves right slap in the centre they are hoping voters who might vote NZF give their party vote to National instead.
      Its all too Machiavellian to explain to voters so its dressed up as compassionate conservative well being…. flogging ideas that work from other parties is as old as politics itself, but of course cant be admitted.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  15th June 2020

        It’s too stupid to explain to anyone. #metoo is handing the election to Jacinda on a plate.

        Reply
        • Griff.

           /  15th June 2020

          To stupid to explain?
          Translated from Alans fringe world view to normal language.
          I have a fringe nutbar view based on gibbering endless nonsense and can not explain in a rational way.
          Who needs to support your world view with an actual argument when feelz rules on the far right ?

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  15th June 2020

            I need to spell it out for you in single syllables then, Griff?

            Muller will do what Jacinda does but thinks folks will like that. They won’t. They will just think she is ok and vote for her.

            There, is that ok for you too?

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  15th June 2020

              Not so….Nats are aiming for the voters who supported them last year but and have shifted this year….
              And they HAVE to give them a reason to come back….marketing 101… Make your phone as similar as possible to an iPhone
              Nats may not have any principles left but they sure do have the marketing and polling grunt to find out voters hot points

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  15th June 2020

              We’ll see who is right in September.

  8. MaureenW

     /  15th June 2020

    If Todd Miller’s the answer, what was the question?
    What happened to the much touted Christopher Luxton?
    I don’t see much hope for National in the foreseeable future.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  15th June 2020

      For heaven’s sake. Luxon isn’t even in Parliament yet, Maureen. What were you expecting?

      Reply
      • MaureenW

         /  15th June 2020

        I was expecting Simon to keep the seat warm. Bringing in another wishy-washy seat warmer doesn’t do much for National’s leadership profile. Reminds me of the Goff and Shearer days in labour.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  15th June 2020

          National is going after the centre because the hard right has nowhere to go.
          Do you think they havent poll tested these themes… aimed at swing voters. The rock solid national vote will just get virtue signalling to keep them happy.
          The party cadres from the liberal wing are now in charge , thats why Bishop, Kaye, and Amy Adams are faces you will see often next to Muller. Collins and Brownlee go with ever who can benefit them.

          Reply

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