Tweets symptomatic of bigger issues

Rob Hosking makes a good point at NBR about the latest lax ministerial missive via Twitter:

Mrs Wagner, MP for Christchurch Central and, since the last cabinet reshuffle, Minister for Earthquake Recovery, is not regarded as one of the government’s high ministerial flyers, and it is possible that adding the earthquake reconstruction job to disability services may have tested her abilities to the maximum level.

Mostly, it seems as though the rather casual and unfocused tweet on social media was more a case of thoughtlessness and discipline rather than, as some of the more virulent critics on social media and the opposition would have it, callousness to the point of the kind of eugenics policy.

But that example of thoughtlessness, of ill-discipline, is, in fact, the point.  

By my count it is the fourth incident in the past four weeks of government ministers showing a degree of sloppiness and complacency of a kind that tends to alienate voters.

Jonathan Coleman’s dismissal of a report on mental health as merely the work of government critics; Maggie Barry’s dismissal of critics of conservation funding on similar grounds; Alfred Ngaro’s message to community social sector providers they should not publicly criticise the government if they wanted to keep their contracts; and now this.

As isolated cases, these are all relatively minor in the greater scheme of things.

Put them together, and there’s a pattern of a government which, as this column noted a fortnight ago, is getting dangerously complacent, complacent to the point of arrogance.

They are arrogant. They think they are going to romp home without doing very much at all. We saw what happened to Theresa May when that is your campaign strategy.

The Wagner tweet in itself is minor stuff as are most of those other cases cited.

But they are symptomatic of an underlying attitude problem among ministers, not to mention a growing sloppiness. 

Next time, such a slip may not be as easily brushed off.

New Zealanders may not be in the mood for a change. Despite all the political noise, polls that ask people whether they think the country is broadly on the right or wrong track consistently report back the majority feel New Zealand is doing all right.

But New Zealanders are also not keen on governments getting up themselves.

The country adopted an electoral system more than 20 years ago aimed specifically at leg-roping governments.

And ministers, too many of them in this government, are starting to behave like people who may be not so much leg-roped as hogtied, come September 23.

None of us really want change, but we do want focus. Bill English is lackadaisical in the extreme. Yesterday morning on Radio Live with Duncan Garner he didn’t even have an answer and waffled on rather drippily.

English should stop telling backbenchers they need everyone to know that unless they vote National they will get Winston and their future ministerial jobs will be at risk and start focusing on returning to National’s roots.

He’s no John Key, and he should stop trying to be John Key. He just looks like a dork and his idiot ministers aren’t much better. If he doesn’t sharpen up then his veiled threats to the backbench just might come true, but by then the backbench might have realised that Winston isn’t the problem, Bill is.

 

-NBR

 


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