Has National stuffed up under MMP?

There have been criticisms of how National campaigned last election, and how they failed to negotiate a coalition agreement with NZ First (or the Greens). Some have said that National don’t get how to work under MMP.

The latest to slam National is ex-ACT MP Heather Roy (who helped stuff ACT under MMP)  in National needs an MMP Leader:

The National party should have been in government after the 2017 election. They had the most votes by a long shot. But they fought a first-past-the-post campaign. It was 21 years out of date. They don’t have any friends. It’s no longer enough to just worry about getting themselves across the line. They’d like to be alone in government but it seems to have escaped the strategists that MMP delivers coalition governments.

If ever there was an election that shows this, it was the 2017 election. So, until there is an understanding throughout the National party of the importance of playing the MMP game they are destined to be on the opposition benches.

I’m not so sure. It’s not National’s fault that the Maori Party lost votes and all their seats to Labour. It’s not National’s fault that Peter Dunne decided to retire from Parliament (perhaps preventing voter enforced retirement). It’s not National’s fault that the ACT party have made major mistakes, kept changing leader, and lost most of their support except for in the Epsom electorate over the past ten years.

It also ignore’s National’s success in putting together three successive MMP coalition governments.

The 2017 election was impacted mostly by two things outside National’s control. The first Metiria Turei’s big gamble that led to the end of her career in Parliament, and halved the Green vote, almost losing the party a place in Parliament.  And Turei’s implosion led to the second, Andrew Little giving up Labour’s leadership and Jacinda Ardern stepping up very successfully (with the assistance of an enraptured media).

National have been criticised for not doing much more in last year’s campaign to show they would be willing to work with NZ First in a coalition, rather than trying to bury NZ First and go it alone (with ACT and, it had hoped, the Maori Party and Peter Dunne).

Every party takes a gamble with their election strategy. Well out from the election Labour and the Greens gambled on being joined at the hip. After that seemed to have failed, Turei’s throw of the political dice turned to custard. Little’s big punt on an Ardern turnaround paid off for Labour. Opportunist supremo Peters always gambles on getting media coverage and support from an election issue – and that didn’t pay dividends for him in 2017, with NZ First support slipping.

National gambled on not needing NZ First support to form a government. A similar strategy had worked for them in 2014, just.

Would National have got the same level of vote (44.45%) if they had campaigned on a willing coalition with NZ First? They could have been harmed by such a strategy and lost more support than they did – Peters is popular with a small percentage of voters (less than 10%), but he is very unpopular with many.

And there are a number of indications that Peters wouldn’t have wanted to form a Government with National regardless.

He campaigned for change and against a continuation of similar governance – ” “The truth is that after 32 years of the neoliberal experiment the character and the quality of our country has changed dramatically, and much of it for the worse.” However that may have just been vote targeting rhetoric, as he is now part of a Government that doesn’t look like following a hugely different direction. He flip flopped on a number of things once in Government, like switching to support of the TPP (along with Labour).

Peters filed court proceedings against Bill English and other National MPs and their staff just before the election, accusing them of leaking his Super overpayment.

And it’s unlikely Peters would have been able to negotiate as many baubles of power – including a deputy prime ministership and acting prime ministership – with National. He had more to gain playing Labour and the Greens.

I think that National understands MMP as much as any party. They had to play their hand with the cards available to them.

Roy continues:

Next Tuesday the National party caucus has the chance to rectify this sorry state of affairs. In this leadership battle one criteria stands out well ahead of all others to me. If I was eligible I would vote for the candidate who best understands MMP and is capable of cultivating strong working partnerships with like minded politicians outside of National.

Best understands MMP like Key, Like English. Like Joyce? They were a successful three term MMP government.

Of course under MMP it is necessary to cultivate strong working partnerships outside your own party – but that depends on willing partners.

But MMP leaders to be able to cultivate working relationships with non-like minded politicians – it’s essential to be able to work with other parties, therefore with different minded politicians.

None of the five candidates is talking about the real problem – that of having no friends now, and having none in the wings. Not since 1951 has one party, under either of our voting systems, won more than 50% of the votes. No-one to work with means opposition benches under MMP.

Not since ever has a party without the highest vote (by a significant margin) led a government.

Is it’s National’s fault they have limited coalition partner parties? They have been slammed for propping up ACT and United Future.

What should National do? Set up a couple of other ‘like minded’ parties that they can work with? They would be slammed for trying to contrive a coalition. They would lose votes, possibly a lot of votes.

The 2020 election is looking like being an MMP election like no other – it’s quite feasible that either or both NZ First (currently polling below the threshold at 3-4%) and the Greens could fall out of Parliament, leaving it effectively as a head to head battle between National and Labour. If that happens neither of the two big parties are likely to get over 50%, but under MMP they wouldn’t need to. They would only need to get more votes than their main opponent.

A major party leader in National’s current situation has to be successful in a succession of quite different roles.

First, they need to get the support of a majority of their caucus to become the leader.

Then they need to be able to lead and manage their caucus, preventing faction splitting.

They need to be able to look like a Prime Minister in waiting, with their party looking capable of running the country.

They also need to get the Leader of the Opposition balance right, between holding the Government to account, but not being seen as over-negative numpties – the barking at every passing car syndrome.

Then they need to appeal to the public for sufficient votes to be in a position to be able to negotiate to form a government.

It takes an extraordinary person to be able to bring all groups together again without resentments lingering once they’ve been declared the winner. A politician worthy of leadership is one who can bring people together, either within a party or to produce a government. Same thing.

And after the election they need to be bring people and parties together, to be more successful than their main opponent, and to form a government.

It doesn’t end there – they then need to switch into being a successful manager of both the country and the coalition.

It’s important to be able to have good working relationships with other parties, but that’s only a small part of the attributes needed to being a successful leader.

Oh, and on top of all that they also need to be able to appeal to the media, to provide the media with headlines and stories and clicks that enhance their chances in election campaigns.

There’s a lot more to MMP leadership than the narrow musings of someone who wasn’t exactly successful in her own party, let alone under MMP. In her third term as an MP Roy is thought to have been involved in an attempted leadership coup, the ACT party fell apart and they dropped from five MPs to one after the 2011 election.

Before a party leader can get into a position of working with other parties they need to not be a party of their own party implosion.

If they are to be successful National’s new leader will need to demonstrate a wide range of skills – one of which is being adept at adapting to the unexpected in politics. It’s impossible to know what the likely options will be by the 2020 election.

New blog on ‘the political sugar rush’

Ex-ACT MP Heather Roy (she was an MP from 2002 to 2011) has started a blog. her first post:

The Political Sugar Rush

I’ve been an active participant in six election campaigns. My mind may be a bit hazy as exhaustion was a significant factor in most, but I really can’t remember previous campaigns being dominated by the extravagance and largesse of the current big spending promises by most political parties. Gareth Morgan, in his slightly clumsy, anti-politician way is actually refreshing when he tries to hold this spending to account and quite correct in my view when he says no party (other than his of course!) is looking at new solutions to old problems.

Over the last two weeks I’ve been wondering why this campaign is leaving such a bitter taste in my mouth.

Read what is causing the bitter taste: https://onesock.nz/2017/08/31/the-political-sugar-rush/

I’ll be voting for the party who can articulate a plan that provides incentives to let New Zealanders get on with their lives, that provides us with the platform to take care of themselves and our families. Surely one party at least can provide us with this?

Women and Act

How well does the Act Party represent women? Is it mostly a party of dis-empowered and frustrated old men?

If you don’t support Act are you a cowardly irrational gutless soft mother lover?

In his latest outbursts John Ansell has been blunt about his views on Act and women.

In short, [ACT’s] catchment is men and women who think like men. Not men and women who think like women. ACT is the party of the strong father, not the soft mother.

(By strong father I include strong women like Rand, Richardson and Thatcher, and by soft mother I include weak men like Key.)

Maybe that’s why Rodney Hide had to be rolled, he pandered to “soft mothers” with his dancing and re-marriage and triping around the world with his partner.

Ansell continues to reveal his  gender views on Kiwiblog.

The women who support ACT are not squeamish about speaking bluntly about rational issues (including racial issues). I respect them very much.

In short, they’ve got guts.

More typical women are less rational and more emotional. They’d rather preserve relationships than rock the boat. Is that not true?

If it were not for the female vote, Don Brash would have become prime minister in 2005 and we’d be a much more prosperous country today.

But women, by a reasonable margin, preferred to cuddle the various minority groups and spend more of other people’s money on welfare that to take the hard economic decisions. These ‘soft mothers’ voted for short-term gain and long-term pain.

The ‘strong fathers’, also by a reasonable margin, voted for short-term pain and long-term gain. The rational (or should that be Brashional) approach.

Now of course I’ll be branded misogynist as well as racist. But again, I’m just pointing out the simple truth.

The soft mother model doesn’t seem to be universal. In Britain, women ‘got’ Margaret Thatcher’s bold approach (a woman who thought like a man if ever there was one).

But in New Zealand, when it comes to strong policies that actually allow the country to move forward, the girls let the side down. Three terms of Clarxism was not a rational answer to any rational question.

New Zealand is awash with parties that represent the female view of the world: Labour, the Greens, the latter-day Nats.

But only ACT represents rational women and rational men. The party should not be ashamed to say so.

So the 98.3% of people that don’t currently support Act (and the TV3 poll won’t have been influenced by the Acting out over the weekend) are, according to Ansell:

  • Cowards
  • Soft mothers
  • Irrational
  • Gutless

Effectively Ansell is saying that Act represents REAL MEN and everyone else are sissies, and worse.

How much of this is an Ansell only view?
What is the wider Act view on women (and sissy men)?
What are Don Brash’s views on women?

Or does any of this matter now?