Dealing with the real babies

Jacinda Ardern has more to deal with than just her baby; she has the babies of the governing parties to deal withQuote:

If Bridges is going to hitchhike into power on the enduring popularity of the National Party, despite his own woeful preferred PM ratings, then his best bet may be to make sure both minor parties don’t make it back into Parliament.

Based off early polling this electoral term, such a scenario is possible. End quote.

And not really at the same time. Firstly, it would be ill-advised to assume on the basis of one poll six months from the last election that this will carry through until the next election, and also erroneous to assume that National would have enough to govern alone. That was Bill English’s mistake and if that is National’s plan then it will be Simon Bridges’ mistake also. If John Key couldn’t do it then Simon Bridges will never do it. Quote:  

So while the Prime Minister is off nursing her real baby, her political dependents – the two adopted, minor Government parties, won’t have their guardian to redirect public attention through strength of personality, unflappable temperament, and the trivia of her domestic life (not that she herself exploits this). End quote.

Of course she exploits it… she is already breaking her pre-birth plans and going direct to Facebook for gushy videos. Labour can’t help themselves either. You’d think that the baby Jesus or a royal princess had been born with all the carry-on about the ‘first whanau’ etc. Good lord, this isn’t America and it seems Kiwi egalitarianism has been chucked out the window because of a Labour party princess. It is quite pathetic. Being called ‘first’ anything in New Zealand will begin to grate if they carry it on. But the media have done this from the get-go. Bronagh Key was never called first lady, Max Key never called first hipster and Peter Davis was never called first husband.  Quote:

Despite National’s concerted publicity ad campaign for the voters to “get to know Simon”, they could be better off, at least for the next six weeks, turning him into a ghost, and highlighting his competencies rather than his personality. End quote.

What competencies? Quote:

This could be in the same mould as Bill English who, for the first 27.5 years of his political life was a figure of restraint and surgically precise criticism. He was transformed during the 2017 election campaign when the emergence of Ardern, with her charisma, forced him to conjure his own. End quote.

And how did that work out for Bill English? Quote:

It may come to pass over the next month or so that such a stoic figure contrasts favourably with the giddy enthusiasm coming from the Government side of the house, with no political phenom in the top seat to outshine them.

The reason for this is the minor coalition parties, even under the watch of Ardern, have shown themselves more than willing to put their own grasp for political relevance ahead of Government cohesiveness.

And with approval ratings like the Greens and NZ First have had since getting into government, it’s not so unreasonable that self-interest has been driving their actions – even without an election looming.

In the last 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll, on May 28, NZ First registered below the threshold to re-enter Parliament at 4.2 per cent approval, and the Greens were right on the line at five per cent.

In the equivalent poll prior to that, on February 19, Labour surged to a 15-year high of 48 per cent approval. It came at the expense of the Greens, then down two points to five per cent, and NZ First, down two points also to a measly three per cent.

Following this first poll in Government, Greens leader James Shaw even explicitly said they were concerned about Labour directly stealing their votes. He also subtly reiterated that Labour was not their master, there was no formal coalition between them, and the Greens were more than willing to act exclusively in their best interests.

“This [loss of votes to Labour] is something that we are really cognisant of. That’s one of the reasons we decided to go into a confidence and supply agreement rather than a full coalition,” Shaw said at the time of the February poll results. End quote.

James Shaw is a fool. If he even bothered to talk to Labour ministers or MPs he’d realise that Labour actually believe that the Greens have stolen their votes, and that they rightly belong to Labour and so will do anything to stab the Greens… including friendly fire. Quote:

Massey University politics Associate Professor Grant Duncan said all parties represented this term should be fully aware that a two-party Parliament is a possible scenario next term. End quote.

Possible, but not likely. Quote:

“You certainly have to allow for the possibility that National continues at 44-odd, as at the last election, because there’s a staunch support for them that doesn’t want to budge and wants to stick with the National brand regardless of who the leader is,” Associate Professor Duncan said at the time.

“The nightmare situation for Labour is if both NZ First and the Greens fail to get back into Parliament, they both fall below five per cent, even if Labour does quite well but can’t top National and we end up with a two-party Parliament with National getting a single party majority.

“It’s not impossible, potentially with Simon Bridges hanging in there, provided he doesn’t completely screw up, he could end up Prime Minister.”

But hanging in there may require adaptation, because with baby in tow, it’s nigh-on-impossible Bridges will ever get near Ardern in preferred PM stakes. End quote.

Bridges has to survive that long first. His constant hogging of questions so he can get beaten up in parliament by Jacinda Ardern and Winston Peters is starting to grate with the back bench. Quote:

So instead of going head-to-head with Winston, Bridges may be better off letting the veteran’s own boldness run its course into questionable territory without Ardern to qualify the Government’s actual stance.

One example of this was the Deputy PM’s claim in March this year there was no evidence the Russian Government was involved in the missile strike on MH17 over Ukraine, or interfering in the US election, while he was advocating for a free trade agreement with them.

He also failed to directly implicate the Russian Government in the Salisbury nerve agent attack, stating ambiguously: “How this military grade nerve agent was transported from Russia and released abroad is the key issue here.”

It left Ardern to make a number of very clear cut interviews claiming her Government had been “very strong to denounce what has happened here”.

“There are very few other options [than Russia being the source of the attack], and this is why we have come out and said, this is repugnant, this is a breach of international law,” Ardern said on TVNZ’s Q+A programme.

“Of course from the UK’s account there are very few other places that this could have come from. In fact, one. And we have been very strong to denounce what has happened here and so has the Minister for Foreign Affairs.”

A similar situation was on the cards last week with Peters refusing to initially express concern over the highly controversial migrant family separations, which have been enforced since May along the US-Mexico border.

However, with President Trump’s own change to his administration’s policy to stop the family separations, Peters himself did on Thursday, June 21, say “the coalition government conveyed its concerns to the US Embassy in Wellington yesterday afternoon” over the border protection policy. End quote.

The best strategy to deal with Winston Peters, ever the attention seeker, is to simply ignore him. Don’t ask him any questions and don’t respond to his barbs. Quote:

The Green’s too have been rebellious in their own way, though perhaps with more logic to it, and more discretion.

James Shaw’s advice that Kiwis should “eat one less meat meal” to help climate change was probably unhelpful to the economy’s largest trade sector – farming. It was a comment that he was quick to clarify in the same interview was not Government policy.

Also, Julie Anne Genter’s comment that older white men should vacate their positions on boards was at best an optimistic strategy for increasing diversity.

Of course, all this is not to say Ardern has not had to censure her own party, over phonecalls on planes, and casual, yet planned, yet informal, yet diary-set meetings between Government Ministers and Government-funded radio media executives.

But, Ardern herself is naturally suited to a conciliatory role more than an aggressive one. She puts out fires with broad strokes of a bigger national picture and a refusal to overreact when drawn into a political controversy.

Bridges should take note because if he can have the foresight to take a step back and adopt a pragmatic approach to policy and political debate, he may find some of Jacinda’s charismatic restraint rubs off on him over the next month and a half. End quote.

Ardern has many, many problems and NZ First and the Greens are the least of them. Her own ministers appear weak, vacillating, crooked and inept. One of them has to go to set an example, because to do otherwise will cement in voters’ minds that she doesn’t have the stones to govern properly.


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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.

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