Trotter on bringing down the ‘warrior queen’

Chris Trotter isn’t impressed with what he has seen so far from this government:


Chris does love his history, and he usually finds an appropriate metaphor. This time however, by invoking the spirit of Boudica he has failed. Jacinda Ardern doesn’t have the bottle for a fight, she will end up in hospital well before then.

The Colmar-Brunton opinion poll, released by TVNZ’s Q+A show on Sunday, brings that latter question into sharp focus.

National’s level of support, measured at 46 per cent, has not only held up, it has actually improved slightly over the 44.4 per cent it won at the General Election.

For the governing parties, the news is not so good.  

When translated into seats in the House, the Government’s numbers (Labour: 39 per cent; Greens: 7 per cent; NZ First: 5 per cent) deliver no advance on its current tally of 63.

If Jacinda was anticipating a “post-election bounce” in the polls, then she and her colleagues will find it hard to avoid feeling ever-so-slightly jumpy.

It’s not only the fact that National continues to enjoy a substantial lead over Labour that must be vexing the Government, but also the sheer size of its opponent’s electoral base.

Unlike the Centre-Left, the Centre-Right in New Zealand is not required to continually marshal political parties as diverse as they are disputatious. Instead, they can range themselves against the Left’s warrior queen as a formidable unitary force commanded by a single leader.

If Jacinda is Boudica, then Bill English is Suetonius. And if the Government represents the fractious war-horde of the revolting British tribes, then the National Opposition represents the XIV Legion.

Suetonius is likely to get stabbed though, but the Legion may well prevail if the cock-ups continue.

Historical metaphors aside, the disposition of political forces revealed in the latest Colmar-Brunton Poll reflects a dangerously divided society.

National’s voters clearly remain unconvinced by the new government’s arguments for change.

Certainly, this poll has registered nothing like the decisive 10 per centage-point shift in voter allegiance that followed the election of Helen Clark in 1999, and John Key in 2008.

Branded by its enemies as a “coalition of the losers”, the Labour-NZ First-Green Government is beset by legitimacy issues entirely absent from previous MMP configurations.

These legitimacy issues are unlikely to be ameliorated by the Government’s apparent determination to keep its spending within the narrow bounds of its “Budget Responsibility Rules”.

The strategic thinking behind this self-imposed restraint is unclear – to say the least.

For parties and candidates pitching themselves against the status-quo, boosting electoral turnout is everything. Donald Trump and the Brexiteers did not win by offering their angry constituencies careful and measured policies.

For Labour’s share of the popular vote to overtake National’s, its leaders need to roll-out policies of sufficient boldness to mobilise the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who have, hitherto, seen little or no point in voting.

The so-called missing million? Funny how we haven’t heard a peep about them now Labour is in government.

Proud reiterations of your government’s “fiscal and economic responsibility” will likely strike many of these potential voters as a pretty odd way to bid for their support.

Very much a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

National’s strategy, by contrast, is clear and simple: take confidence in our strength; remain united and disciplined; and seize every opportunity to inflict maximum damage upon the Government.

The Centre-Right seldom requires special policy carrots to lure its voters to the polling-booths. Conservatives know who their friends are.

When Suetonius set the XIV Legion across Watling Street and waited for Boudica to come at him, he was supremely confident that, providing his men remembered their training and followed their orders, the Britons would be unable to translate their numerical advantage into victory.

On the contrary, he anticipated that the massive casualties inflicted by his legionaries would soon break the British tribesmen’s fighting spirit and send them into headlong retreat.

If Bill English and his National Opposition are similarly able to hold the line, and drive back every government advance, then he, too, will be rewarded with a loss of confidence in his enemies’ ranks.

Moreover, if he takes advantage of Labour’s ridiculous determination to limit the Coalition Government’s room for fiscal and economic manoeuvre, then Bill English, like Suetonius, will bring down his warrior queen.

They’ve already destroyed her deputy, Kelvin Davis, and he had another inept performance in the house yesterday. The cracks are appearing, now National needs to drive a wedge…another fantastic military tactic from the Dark Ages.





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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.