National harvested email addresses via petitions

The National Party has apologised for using ‘issue’ petitions to harvest email addresses, then putting the respondents in their database and soliciting for donations.

This is not the first time a party has used petitions to build a contact database. Both Labour and Greens often used petitions and campaigns to gather contact information. They generally committed to just contacting people on the issue they had signed up for – I don’t know whether it went any further than that, or how long the contact data was retained.

This time it is National exposed for using bogus campaigns (petitions are usually of little ort no influence) to harvest contact data.

RNZ:  National apologises for mass database sign-up

The National Party has been forced to apologise to potentially thousands of people after accidentally signing them up to the party database.

Accidentally? Yeah, right.

People who signed up to join two petitions – against scrapping flights to Kāpiti Airport and one to save the Lumsden Maternity Centre in Southland – started also receiving emails from National asking for money to fight the government.

National would not say how many people were added to their database, but thousands signed signed the two petitions started by National MPs.

Neither petition stated that an email address would be added to the party’s mailing list.

Ms Dacombe is now hesitant to sign any more National sponsored petitions in the future.

“Not impressed. I signed the petition to support a local project, not for my email address to be used for another political purpose,” one person wrote.

Another woman said she “was seriously disgusted, & felt seriously insulted, when I received the begging letter from Simon Bridges”.

Another person said the petition was “just a way to collect data to bombard your inbox with National Party propaganda”.

This may be a big backfire for National – people generally don’t like being sucked in and then targeted by politicians.

I don’t think National’s excuses are credible. They tried an old trick and got found out. They deserve the bad publicity for their dishonesty.

Online petitions organised by political parties should be viewed with suspicion.

Two years ago, Labour had to defend its use of a “baby number” widget which offered people the chance to find out what number baby they are, in exchange for giving the party their email address.

That’s just one other example.

And it’s not just petitions obviously linked to an organisation – it is simple and I think probably common for proxy people or groups to be used to run petitions and online campaigns.

Dishonest political parties should be despised and avoided, but it’s hard to know who is the least dishonest when it comes to data gathering and campaigning.

Getting rid of “National are evil baby-eating doers”

I’ve often seen it joked that left wingers see National as baby-eating evil doers, but here it is actually stated:

Why would the GP want to unbundle from Labour when having an agreement with Labour brings them benefits they negotiated and want?

National are baby-eating evil doers. That’s the whole point.

I presume that’s just rhetoric, but it indicates a distinct distaste for anything about National.

The Greens position is (and has been for a long time) that they will work with any party where there is shared policy. For the Greens to work with National in govt National would have to change its economic, social and environmental policies. That’s not going to happen any time soon.

So Greens would only work with National if changed all their policies to Green policies? I don’t think ‘weka’ speaks on behalf of the Green Party, but I’ve seen this attitude expressed before. It’s completely out of touch with how politics works here, especially under MMP (the MMP that allowed Greens to get a presence in Parliament and recently a presence in Government.

And Greens got into Government without Labour and NZ First changing all their policies to Green policies. A lot of Labour policies are very similar or the same as National policies.

And the Greens have had to accept policies put into practice, like the CPTPP (that is supported by both Labour and National), and introduced bills, like the NZ First waka jumping bill, that the greens still oppose, in theory at least.

So this ‘Greens won’t deal with National unless they change all their policies’ is arrogant ignorance.

It’s nothing to do with the Greens being able to tell supporters that National aren’t evil, unless National stop being evil. Has that happened?

There’s an emphasis on ‘National are evil’, minus the baby eating.  It must just be a Green activist attitude – I don’t see James Shaw or Julie Anne Genter saying National are evil, and both seem prepared to work with National if it means progressing some common policy (as happened in the past over cycleways and house insulation).

“we can at least listen to any offer they give us, doesn’t mean they have to accept it but at least it’d mean Labour couldn’t take the Greens for granted any longer”

But the Greens are already in the position of listening to National make offers. National aren’t making any offers (and as above, they don’t have anything that the Greens are interested in).

National have sounded out Greens on some level of cooperation. They did during coalition negotiations. Simon Bridges did when he became National leader.

Green supporters like ‘weka’ are the ones not interested in listening to anyone, including National, who won’t fully accept Green ideals and policies.

“The other is that they have a stated intent to change how parliamentary democracy works in NZ.”

“Forming a government with National would certainly fall under those auspices I’d have thought”

Rofl. Funny as mate.

Not funny – it’s sad that some Green supporters seem like they will never accept working with National (conveniently forgetting when they have), and would hold their MPs to ‘National is evil’ type nonsense.

If Greens are serious about significantly changing how parliamentary democracy works in New Zealand – Chlöe Swarbrick was sounding out ideas on this on Twitter yesterday – then somehow they need to educate some of their supporters that that means they won’t get all their policies and ideals accepted and implemented, it means compromise, and it also means co-operation with all parties.

And it means getting rid of a “National are evil baby-eating evil doers” mentality, or at least democratically voting against the intransigence of those who promote extreme intolerance of other parties.

Reactions to the National reshuffle

Reactions to the National reshuffle – certainly not timid, but with risks (every reshuffle of non-reshuffle has risks in politics):

Claire Trevett at Stuff: Simon Bridges’ reshuffle radical – by National Party standards

The show-stealers in National Party leader Simon Bridges’ reshuffle are obvious and Bridges took particular joy in setting the scene for a showdown between new Housing spokeswoman Judith Collins and Housing Minister Phil Twyford.

And Twyford has risen to the bait on Twitter and in media. He must have had a day off his housing ministerial duties yesterday.

But Bridges pointed out there is a lot of background work that must happen as well to set the party up for 2020.

In that respect, Bridges continued with the structure that worked well for National, grouping his MPs into teams such as finance, children and social welfare, law and order, health and economic development to work on policies together.

That’s what a party should be doing in Opposition.

Labour seemed remarkably unprepared for Government after nine years in Opposition. Much of their initial work seems to be to have reviews and inquiries and working groups before they decide on what policies to implement.

So Bridges was not exaggerating when he said his reshuffle came with some risks – although he was referring to the risks of some relative unknowns taking high-profile roles rather than the risk of a revolt.

Good leaders have to take risks – especially when faced with the knowledge that first term Government failures are rare in New Zealand.

However bad leaders take bad risks – time will tell how it works out for Bridges.

Stacey Kirk at Stuff:  Simon Bridges caucus holds logic and risk, but will it boast reward?

Leader Simon Bridges has unveiled his new look shadow-Cabinet and he’s made it abundantly clear the traditional power structures within the party are a thing of the past.

Bridges’ reshuffle doesn’t have the face of being haphazard or even based on previously-speculated notions of reward and punishment. It’s a lineup that has some obvious logic and planning behind it.

But change this big is both a gamble and a risk.

With an eye on 2020 and the improbable goal of containing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Government to a single term, Bridges will know historic feats are never typically achieved by playing it safe.

Brigitte Morten at RNZ: Bridges’ reshuffle reveals ‘insight and guts’

Simon Bridges’ Cabinet reshuffle was his first real test as National’s new leader and it revealed he has the guts to make the tough calls.

Predictable responses at The Standard –  National announces new line up – and Kiwblog – Bridges announces the new Opposition lineup.

Typically these days Whale Oil is slow to respond, with no post yet (the announcement was yesterday afternoon) part from a promo of Judith Collins, but expect Hail Oil regarding Collins’ promotion and spotlight, and Wail Oil about most of the rest – it could be a good pointer to who is in favour there, which on recent comments is not many.

Bridges shuffles National deck

With Bill English and Steven Joyce gone or going soon, and Simon Bridges now leading the national party, the Opposition  responsibilities and rankings have been announced.

New lineup (with movement from last ranking in brackets).

  1. Hon Simon Bridges (+4), Leader, National Security and Intelligence
  2. Hon Paula Bennett (-), Deputy Leader, Social Investment and Social Services,Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, Women
  3. Hon Amy Adams (+3), Finance
  4. Hon Judith Collins (+5), Housing and Urban Development, Planning (RMA Reform)
  5. Hon Todd McClay (+8), Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tourism
  6. Hon Dr Jonathan Coleman (+1), Health, Sport and Recreation
  7. Hon Mark Mitchell (+14), Justice, Defence, Disarmament
  8. Jami-Lee Ross (+19),  Infrastructure, Transport
  9. Hon Paul Goldsmith (+5), Economic and Regional Development, Revenue,Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage
  10. Hon Nikki Kaye (+2), Education
  11. Hon Gerry Brownlee (-7), Shadow Leader of the House, GCSB, NZSIS,America’s Cup
  12. Hon Nathan Guy (-1),  Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety
  13. Hon Michael Woodhouse (-3),  Immigration, Workplace Relations and Safety, Deputy Shadow Leader of the House
  14. Hon Louise Upston (+1),  Social Development
  15. Hon Alfred Ngaro (+5), Children,Community and Voluntary Sector, Pacific Peoples
  16. Hon Christopher Finlayson QC (-8),  Shadow Attorney-General, Crown-Māori Relations, Pike River Re-entry
  17. Hon Scott Simpson (+9), Environment
  18. Hon Jacqui Dean (+5), Local Government, Small Business
  19. Melissa Lee (+12), Broadcasting, Communications and Digital, Media, Ethnic Communities
  20. Sarah Dowie (+19), Conservation
  21. Hon Anne Tolley (-5), Deputy Speaker
  22. Rt Hon David Carter (-5), State Owned Enterprises
  23. Hon David Bennett (+1), Corrections, Land Information, Associate Infrastructure
  24. Jonathan Young (+8),  Energy and Resources, Regional Development (North Island)
  25. Hon Maggie Barry ONZM (-6), Seniors, Veterans,  Associate Health
  26. Hon Dr Nick Smith (-8),  State Services (including Open Government), Electoral Law Reform
  27. Barbara Kuriger (+1), Nominee for Senior Whip
  28. Matt Doocey (+1), Mental Health, Nominee for Junior Whip
  29. Simon O’Connor (+5),  Customs, Associate Housing (Social), Associate Social Development
  30. Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (-), Internal Affairs, Associate Justice
  31. Hon Tim Macindoe (-6), ACC, Associate Foreign Affairs and Trade
  32. Brett Hudson (+8),  Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Government Digital Services, Associate Transport
  33. Stuart Smith (+13), Earthquake Commission, Civil Defence, Viticulture
  34. Todd Muller (+8), Climate Change
  35. Dr Jian Yang (+1), Statistics, Associate Ethnic Communities
  36. Dr Parmjeet Parmar (+7),  Research, Science and Innovation, Associate Economic Development
  37. Nuk Korako (+4),  Māori Development, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations
  38. Chris Bishop (-), Police, Youth
  39. Ian McKelvie (-5), Fisheries, Racing
  40. Hon Nicky Wagner (-18), Arts, Culture and Heritage, Greater Christchurch Regeneration
  41. Andrew Bayly (+4), Building and Construction, Associate Finance
  42. Dr Shane Reti (+2), Data and Cybersecurity, Disability Issues, Associate Health
  43. Alastair Scott (+2), Forestry, Associate Finance
  44. Jo Hayes (-11),  Whānau Ora, Māori Education
  45. Simeon Brown, Associate Education
  46. Andrew Falloon, Regional Development (South Island)
  47. Harete Hipango, Māori Tourism
  48. Matt King, Rural Communities
  49. Denise Lee, Local Government (Auckland)
  50. Chris Penk, Courts
  51. Erica Stanford, Associate Environment
  52. Tim Van de Molen, Nominee for Third Whip
  53. Hamish Walker, Associate Agriculture
  54. Lawrence Yule, Horticulture
  55. Maureen Pugh, Associate Children
  56. Nicola Willis, Early Childhood Education

Judith Collins has been promoted to #4, meaning 3 of the top four MPs are female.

Alphabetical (apart from the two leaders):

Labour topped election spending after Ardern surge

Labour says that a flood of donations after Jacinda Ardern became leader leading into the election campaign enabled them to outspend National for the first time in a campaign since 2008.

NZH: Rise of Jacinda Ardern sees Labour outspend National on election campaign

Labour spent more than National in last year’s election campaign for the first time since 2008 – but at least $275,000 worth of advertising and campaign work was effectively wasted and written off after Andrew Little stepped down and Jacinda Ardern took over as leader.

The election returns show Labour spent $2.58 million on election advertising during the 2017 election campaign while National spent $300,000 less at $2.55 million.

National got better bang for its buck – once the taxpayer-funded broadcasting allocations for each party were added in National spent about $3.40 for each vote it secured while Labour spent $3.85.

That’s debatable – National simply held most of the support it had in 2014, but Labour gained a lot.

It’s also debatable how effective spending is, especially given how much free publicity Ardern and Labour were given by media.

But the nose to Labour shows its dramatic change of fortunes since 2014 when it was cash strapped and spent just $1.27 million on the campaign led by David Cunliffe – slightly less than the Green Party and less than half National’s spending.

Over double, thaty’s a big turnaround.

Ardern’s campaign was focused on youth and Labour spent more than four times as much on social media advertising than National – from gay dating site Grindr to Facebook and Google.

It spent $475,400 for advertising on Facebook and Google compared to National’s $101,255.

It’s surprising that National didn’t do much on social media.

An ad agency owned by Ardern’s friend Eddy Royal, Curative, was also paid $62,000 which Kirton said was for advertising work done in the initial stages of Ardern’s leadership before the new ad agency was selected.

As significant as Labour’s surge was the Green shrinkage:

The returns show that the Green Party spent $818,500 while NZ First spent $666,150 and Act. The Opportunities Party spent just over $1 million on advertising for its first campaign, much of it funded by founder Gareth Morgan.

Greens have been pushing for donations since the election to try to pay their bills. The Turei gamble didn’t pay off financially as wel as electorally.



“The silence of National and Labour on transparency is noted”

Neither of the two large parties, Labour or National, show any sign of following the Green Party example of transparency and a refusal to accept corporate baubles. Neither does NZ First. This is a shame, but it’s unsurprising.

The Green announcement: Green Party announces new transparency measures

Green Party Co-leader James Shaw has today announced two important new transparency measures, which will apply to Green Party Ministers, MPs and staff, to help counter the influence of money in politics.

Green Party Ministers will soon proactively release their ministerial diaries, to show who they’ve met with and why. Additionally, Green Ministers, MPs and staff will not accept corporate hospitality, such as free tickets to events unrelated to their work.

ODT editorial: Green Party transparency welcomed

Transparency is a hallmark of any functioning government and the Green Party says it will continue to aim to uphold that – in Parliament and in Government.

Green co-leader James Shaw recently announced two important new transparency measures which will apply to Green Party ministers, MPs and staff to help show what he says is the influence of money in politics.

The actions are a major step forward in transparency and one which should be held up as an example to other political parties, both inside and outside Parliament.

The power of big business over politicians has become insidious in the United States. It is possible many New Zealand voters will be surprised by the influence of lobbyists in New Zealand.

Because New Zealand is such a small country, MPs, or their staff, often move into areas of influence outside of Parliament while retaining their close ties with the parties with which they previously worked.

Broadcasting Minister Clare Curran was blindsided in Parliament recently when questioned about her relationship with public broadcaster Radio New Zealand. It was revealed Ms Curran, the Dunedin South MP, had met privately with a highly ranked staff member of RNZ.

Then, National revealed an employee of the Prime Minister’s Office promoted Government policy while participating in an opinion segment on Radio New Zealand National, only describing herself as a public relations consultant from a private company for which she no longer worked.

The silence of National and Labour on transparency is noted.

There should be no reason why big wealthier corporates have better or more access to politicians than those organisations who cannot afford to shout free tickets to the rugby or a corporate box at the tennis.

Some will view the Greens’ actions as naive. However, the party must be congratulated and voters should push hard for other ministers and MPs to also start opening their diaries.

Yes, the Greens should be congratulated on walking the transparency walk.

Pressure needs to be put on Labour in particular to front up on this. They have an agreement with the Greens to do this – their Confidence and Supply agreement:

20. Strengthen New Zealand’s democracy by increasing public participation, openness, and transparency around official information.

Labour agrees to work with the Green Party on these and other policy areas as may be identified from time to time, and in good faith.

There is little sign that Labour is living up to their agreement. There is one Beehive release from Associate Minister for State Services (Open Government) Clare Curran that touches on it: Continued effort needed against corruption

“While we continue to hold the position of least corrupt country, and already have high standards of conduct and integrity, we must not be complacent. These results show we are not immune to behaviour and actions that can erode the great work done by the majority of people in the public sector.

“Our focus must be on building and maintaining the public’s trust in the integrity of the public sector, a key enabler in our ability to do better for New Zealand and New Zealanders. I expect a continued commitment to transparency and the highest levels of integrity,” Ms Curran says.

“This government is also committed to reviewing and improving our access to information frameworks and is currently initiating work on human rights in the digital environment.

“Our commitment to open government plays an important role in New Zealand’s democratic system, underpinning the public’s respect, trust, and confidence in the integrity of government.”

That’s just talk from Curran – and she has been embarrassed twice in Parliament over questionable actions of herself and of Government advisor and lobbyist Tracey Bridges.

Greens have shown Curran up by committing to having open diaries and not accepting corporate baubles, while all she seems to have done is waffle and duck and dive.

If all parties currently in government establish more open and transparent procedures and practices then whenever National next gets into Government they should be under pressure to continue with similar levels of transparency and openness.

Talking of National, they don’t make it easy finding their list of MPs on their website. Todd McClay is their spokesperson for State Services – I can’t find anything from him on open government, although Nikki Kaye has called for greater transparency over Partnership Schools.



Amy Adams to take Finance role

Simon Bridges has appointed Amy Adams as National’s Finance Spokesperson. This isn’t a surprise. Adams has been very accomplished in previous roles as a Minister, which included Associate Minister of Finance.

Bridges appoints Adams Finance Spokesperson

Opposition Leader Simon Bridges has appointed Amy Adams as Opposition Finance Spokesperson, saying she is the best person to ensure the Government builds on the National Party’s world-class economic record and does not squander New Zealand’s hard-won success.

“I am today announcing Amy Adams as our Finance Spokesperson and the third-ranked MP in our Caucus, ahead of the caucus reshuffle to show the economy remains the National Party’s number one priority.

“Having a strong economy allows us to invest in public services and create opportunities for New Zealanders – something the National Party has demonstrated over the past decade.

“And, as a result of our strong economic plan this Government has inherited one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world, one which is seeing 10,000 jobs created a month on average, rising household incomes, budget surpluses, and falling government debt. All this is helping ensure New Zealanders get ahead.

“However, the Labour-NZ First-Green coalition Government seems intent on squandering that through plans to impose more taxes on hard-working New Zealanders and through rolling out negative and backward looking policies which will slow down our growth and see New Zealanders miss out.

“The National Party will fight these changes and Amy is the best person to lead that effort.

“Amy is an incredibly experienced former Minister, serving as Associate Minister of Finance as well as holding a range of important and challenging portfolios, from Social Housing to Justice and Environment, which she handled with real diligence and focus.

“She has chaired Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee, has a background in commercial law and is a talented and hard-working member of the National Party caucus.

“Amy follows in the footsteps of the National Party’s hugely successful finance ministers, Bill English and Steven Joyce, and I have no doubt she’ll do a great job on behalf of all New Zealanders. I look forward having her on my team.”

That makes National’s #2 (Paula Bennett) and #3 female (Adams), which strengthens an appearance of diversity. The full shadow line-up may not be known for another week, but Judith Collins is also likely to be prominent.

Adams to take fight to the Government

New National Party Finance Spokesperson Amy Adams has signalled a strong focus on ensuring the continued success of the New Zealand economy and says she will fight hard against Government policies that will slow New Zealand down.

“New Zealand currently has one of the strongest economies in the western world. That’s not an accident. That’s a result of the hard work of New Zealanders backed by the strong economic plan of the previous National-led Government,” Ms Adams says.

“New Zealand succeeds best when we are open and connected with the world. I’m looking forward to getting out and meeting with and listening to successful exporters and employers in the weeks ahead.

“National will be advancing new economic and social policies ahead of the next election, but first we have to stop the threat posed by Labour’s economic mismanagement.

“Many of the Labour-led Government’s planned policy changes will sacrifice our economic success and make it harder for New Zealand businesses to compete and succeed.

“These changes are bad for all of us. Slower business growth means less investment, fewer job opportunities, and lower wages generally than would otherwise be the case.

“Already businesses are less confident now than they were six months ago, despite the world economy steadily strengthening over this time.

Ms Adams singled out Labour’s overseas investment changes, employment law changes, and proposed new taxes as things that would ankle-tap the country’s medium-term economic performance.

“In Select Committee National MPs are constantly hearing how the Overseas Investment Bill will chill foreign investment. That’s bad for housing construction, bad for the regions, and bad for our economy overall.

“And now the Government’s Tax Working Group is clearly looking to design a more redistributive tax system that removes any incentives for New Zealanders to work hard and get ahead.

“The Government needs to focus on the quality and quantity of their new spending. They are continuously ramping up expectations. I’ll be keeping a close eye on their approach to spending taxpayers’ money.

“This Government needs to heed the lessons of success and stop trying to introduce policies that will only take us backwards and damage the economic security of all New Zealanders.”

Adams may be limited in what she can do until the Government’s and Grant Robertson’s first budget in May.

Should National follow their founding principles?

I’ve seen a few calls for National to ‘return’ to their founding principles. Like:

I don’t want National to move left or right. I want National to stand up for their founding principles. They display them on their website, after all. Wouldn’t it be nice if they actually followed them?

Founding principles may sound fine at the time, but the country and the world moves on. Founding principles of Christianity are not as relevant a couple of millenia later.

Should a political party’s founding principles be set in stone? Is it possible in practice, under MMP? Greens are finding some of their principles a bit challenged now they are in Government.

The National party was created after a merging of the Reform and United parties in 1936. Wikipedia:


The National Party was formed in May 1936, but its roots go considerably further back. The party came about as the result of a merger between the United Party (known as the Liberal Party until 1927, except for a short period between 1925 and 1927 when it used the name “National Party”) and the Reform Party. The United Party gained its main support from the cities, and drew upon businesses for money and upon middle class electors for votes, while the Reform Party had a rural base and received substantial support from farmers, who then formed a substantial proportion of the population.

In hopes of countering Labour’s rise, United and Reform decided to turn their alliance into a single party. This party, the New Zealand National Party, was formed at a meeting held in Wellington on 13 and 14 May 1936. Members of the United and Reform parties made up the bulk of the new party.

The United Party’s last leader, George Forbes, Prime Minister from 1930 until 1935, opened the conference; he served as Leader of the Opposition from May until November, when former Reform MP Adam Hamilton was elected the first leader. Hamilton led the party into its first election in 1938. He got the top job primarily because of a compromise between Forbes and Reform leader Gordon Coates, neither of whom wished to serve under the other.

Compromise is normal and necessary in politics, something some ardent idealists and activists don’t seem to get.

Hamilton, however, failed to counter Labour’s popular Prime MinisterMichael Joseph Savage effectively. Because of this, perceptions that he remained too much under the control of Coates and because he lacked real support from his party colleagues, Hamilton failed to prevent Labour’s re-election in 1938.

The objectives were stated as:

  • To promote good citizenship and self-reliance;
  • to combat communism and socialism;
  • to maintain freedom of contract;
  • to encourage private enterprise;
  • to safeguard individual rights and the privilege of ownership;
  • to oppose interference by the State in business, and State control of industry.

Some of those ideals are still relevant, some are outdated. It is now accepted that Government needs to be a balance between freedom and regulation. the debate now is over degrees.

National didn’t get into government until 1949.

In 1949 National had campaigned on “the private ownership of production, distribution and exchange”. Once in power the new Holland Government proved decidedly administratively conservative, retaining, for instance, the welfare state set up by the previous Labour Government; though National gained, and has largely kept, a reputation for showing more favour to farmers and to business than did the Labour Party.

So they substantially left in place the welfare state, a fairly socialist (and generally successful) state intervention.

In 1959 Keith Holyoake “encapsulated the conservative and liberal principles of the National Party”:

“We believe in the maximum degree of personal freedom and the maximum degree of individual choice for our people. We believe in the least interference necessary with individual rights, and the least possible degree of state interference.”

So the principles have been refined by then – the realities if being in Government tend to prompt reassessments.

The principles were turned on their head with National prime Minister Robert Muldoon taking Government interventions to extremes, make a huge problem leading to radical reform by, ironically, a Labour (Lange/Douglas) Government.

MMP has changed things substantially, forcing major parties to compete in the middle ground.

National revised their principles in 2003, after a disastrous 2002 election result, and are on their website as:


Our Values

Less debt, more jobs, strong stable government

The National Party has always valued enterprise, hard work and the rewards that go with success. We will continue to aspire to a New Zealand where all New Zealanders can flourish.

We believe this will be achieved by building a society based on the following values:

  • Loyalty to our country, its democratic principles, and our Sovereign as Head of State
  • National and personal security
  • Equal citizenship and equal opportunity
  • Individual freedom and choice
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Competitive enterprise and reward for achievement
  • Limited government
  • Strong families and caring communities
  • Sustainable development of our environment

That is substantially modernised – as it must be if the party is to attract support in the 21sy century.

A party campaigning on National’s 1936 principles would be lucky to make the 5% threshold.

Demanding that National (or Labour or the Greens) return to their founding principles is as futile as demanding the population returns to no welfare, no television, no internet, no contraception, no sex before marriage, no complaints about family violence and no divorce.


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.

National leadership poll (sort of interesting but out of date)

A public poll on the National leadership is of limited value, because the leader is chosen by National’s 56 MPs only, and the poll was conducted before the leadership contest began. But it is a bit interesting, especially National supporter results.

The Spinoff Exclusive: Poll gives Judith Collins slim lead as preferred National leader

A UMR Research survey puts the polarising MP in the lead – but only slightly, and her favourability numbers are dismal, an area in which Amy Adams holds bragging rights.

The tussle to lead the biggest party in New Zealand’s parliament will be a tight one, if polling conducted largely prior to Bill English’s resignation and exclusively revealed to the Spinoff is a guide. Of the declared candidates, Judith Collins can boast the greatest support as preferred National Party leader, both among National voters and the wider public, though her lead over Steven Joyce is statistically negligible.

Not surprising to see so many ‘unsure’. The poll is split over eight MPs with a third ‘unsure’.

Notable that Mark Mitchell doesn’t feature, but that’s not surprising because the poll was almost entirely before Bill English announced he was stepping down, so before any candidates put their names forward.

Favourability ratings are also pertinent:

Collins is slightly behind Adams on favourability, but has twice the unfavourability with about half respondents seeing her unfavourably.

UMR Research, whose clients include the Labour Party, returned the results from its nationwide online omnibus survey, conducted between January 30 and February 14 (Bill English resigned on February 13). A nationally representative sample of 1,000 New Zealanders 18 years of age and over are surveyed. The margin of error for sample size of 750 for a 50% figure at the 95% confidence level is ± 3.1%.

The margin of error for National supporters will be much higher.