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Simon Wilson on the Media’s woeful Mt Roskill performance

When Trump happened, every journalist in the world who covers politics gave themselves a stern talking to.

‘Do not think you know everything’, we said. ‘Must get out more.’

In New Zealand, we got our first chance to test that new resolve with the Mt Roskill by-election.

Boy, what a failure. Much of the press gallery reported it through the firmly established prism of “Labour can’t get anything right but National knows what it’s doing”. Journalists who had not visited the electorate felt unconstrained to comment.

No one (including me) did enough to produce a decent investigative report. There were no independent polls to tell us the mood of the voters. There was very little informed comment on the qualities of the candidates.

Although social media and Trump have changed the way elections are fought, no one got inside the campaigns to explain the tactics of the parties and assess their effectiveness.

Did it matter? A by-election in a “safe seat”, right? I think it mattered a great deal. The idea that dominates most political discourse in this country right now is that Labour is not ready to lead a government. Is it true? It might be.

But we don’t know, and with less than a year until the general election, Mt Roskill provided a real chance to test that idea. Read more »

National Party President comments on Key’s departure


National farewells one of its greatest leaders

By now you’ll have all heard the news that John Key has annouced his intention to resign as leader of the National Party and as NZ’s Prime Minister.

It’s a day that sees the finest leader our party and country have known step down in a style true to himself, on his own terms and in his own time. None of us would or should have expected anything less.

It has been a privilege and an honour for each and every one of us to be members of the National Party under his leadership. We can all be exceptionally proud to have known and worked alongside such a courageous, effective, pragmatic, down to earth politician.

His strong, confident leadership has been exceptional. He leaves an amazing legacy of a country that is now the envy of many others in the world, with a strong economy that provides us with real choices in the near future. Read more »

Simon Wilson on National’s woeful Mt Roskill performance

When I reported that a confidential Labour poll gave Wood a 30-point lead, no one seemed to believe it. Former MP Phil Goff’s lead in 2014 had been 24 percent – how could Wood do even better?

The answer was right there in plain sight, and it wasn’t hiding either. Labour ran a good campaign with good messages that were delivered well. It had a good candidate. It used Mt Roskill to evolve its campaign machine and reconnect with the broad core of its traditional support. It did nothing wrong.

Turns out there were three stories of this by-election. The first is that Labour confounded expectations. It is perfectly capable of connecting with voters and getting results.

The second is that following the council elections two months ago National is still making a real hash of Auckland. Why didn’t they try to win? Their excuse was that governments don’t win seats off the opposition in by-elections, which has been true. But National still rides high in the polls and this is 2016 – normal rules don’t apply. They had a party-vote majority of 2189 in 2014. It was absolutely winnable for them.

A win for National would have helped with their claim to be the party of Auckland’s aspirational ethnic communities. More than that, it would have destroyed Andrew Little and created utter chaos inside Labour. And if National had tried hard but still lost? It would have meant little. They had nothing to lose. Read more »