Nats’ arrogance the most fatal of blows
Bill English is warning of third term-itis and his party needs to listen.
MPs like to claim their party alone gets ‘‘the issues real New Zealanders care about’’. But National MPs are looking cocky three months away from an election; that’s a big problem.
On one level, it’s understandable; National’s polling is telling them that after nine years in Government, they’re still strong, which also matched recent media polls.
But no party should be taking comfort in polls, and if the past week has taught MPs on both sides anything, it’s that complacency is a killer.
Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay did not survive his brush with arrogance, but the mishandling of an employment dispute seemingly brought about by a cabal of electorate officials with equally over-sized egos is not a crime.
Recording someone else’s private conversations, though, is – although Barclay may have had reason to believe he’d got away with it.
But if Prime Minister Bill English hadn’t been caught in the same storm – arguably thanks to his own blithering inconsistency – Barclay might still have a job and not be staring down the prospect of a renewed criminal investigation.
Barclay does not stand alone at the gallows of poor judgement.
Junior minister Alfred Ngaro’s comments at a regional party conference last month, where he openly bragged about having the power to punish anyone who bagged the Government, by withholding their taxpayer funding, were chilling for their implied attitude towards democracy.
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner’s tweet that she’d rather be on the Waitemata Harbour on a sunny day than in meetings with the disability sector just showed a moronic inability to check her privilege.
When English delivered his opening remarks at the party’s annual conference in Wellington yesterday, he hammered the message home.
‘‘Even when on the campaign trail we find policy differences, no doubt with our protesters outside, we need to be confident that we’re still listening, that we can back the decisions we’ve made in what is now nine years in government, but we can still hear what should be heard so we can deliver for New Zealanders in the future.’’
English will deliver his formal address to the rank and file this afternoon and equally, impress the need to avoid third-termitis (with
Nicky Wagner showed a moronic inability to check her privilege.
some added tub-thumping to talk down the Opposition).
And certainly, Labour has a serious credibility issue over whether it’s simply competent enough to run a country.
They could have been playing football with an enemy’s head this week.
Instead, they took a broadsword to their own kneecaps when it emerged the party enticed 85 ‘‘fellows’’ to New Zealand from around the world with the promise of lectures from Helen Clark and a bevy of current ambassadors.
The unpaid interns arrived to a cramped marae dormitory, no lectures, and a broken shower. No matter how they tried to spin it as an independent fellowship, this was a Labour-branded shambles.
Worse, the party undermined their own policy to reduce immigration by preventing the exploitation of students through shoddy education courses. Worse still, it was morally wrong, and questions still hang over whether laws were broken.
But at National’s conference, the forced glee at Labour’s hypocrisy fail only served to highlight the nerve damage from their own selfinflicted wounds.
The biggest threat to National’s chances of securing a fourth term may not be Labour, but a feeling among their own troops that they have the election in the bag.
Far from it.
The prime minister will have a message to National’s rank and file at the party’s annual conference in Wellington today.