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Incite Politics

Winning before you fight

It is likely that the hearts and minds of voters are won or lost by Leaders of the Opposition before they become Leaders of the Opposition. Put another way, there is about every successful Opposition Leader an air of inevitability. Politicians who are successful in weaving about themselves a narrative of personal irresistibility and preordained electoral success are almost impossible to stop. The reverse is equally true. Politicians who cannot persuade either their colleagues or the wider public that they have what it takes to win, never do.

The most vivid exemplar of this notion is Rob Muldoon. The principle . . .

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Incite Politics

No place on the mountain-top for Simple Simon

Some politicians are more comfortable climbing the mountain than they are living at its summit. David Cunliffe, for example, was a tenacious mountaineer. He had set his sights on the Labour leadership and climbed over or around every obstacle in his way. Upon reaching the top of the mountain, however, he simply fell apart. For Cunliffe, the thrill was all in the ascent. For him, the summit held only terror.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the National Party leader, Simon Bridges, is also finding life at the top terrifying. His political behaviour, to date, is not that of a . . .

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Incite Politics

Leaders of awe and dread: How does Simon Bridges measure-up?

Awe and dread were not, however, the sensations that accompanied Simon Bridges when he introduced himself to the nation as the National Party’s new leader. An inescapable quality of impersonation hovered about the man. One unkind wag expressed this by describing Bridges as a boy dressed up in his father’s suit: the jacket’s cuffs extending well beyond his fingertips and the legs of the trousers puddling around his shoes. The effect, far from inspiring awe and dread, invited only ridicule . . .

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Incite Politics

Bernard Hickey’s intergenerational nightmare

Bernard Hickey is doubling-down on his earlier efforts to foment intergenerational conflict. In his latest Newsroom article  he openly incites young voters to prise political power from the hands of their parents and use it to wipe hundreds-of-thousands of dollars off the value of their inheritance. Quite why the children of New Zealanders worth millions would vote to end the tax-free distribution of their parents’ wealth is something Hickey neglects to explain. He wants a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the family home and he is counting on the younger generation to give it to him . . .

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The 1912 Option

On 6 July 1912, the Liberal Party had been governing New Zealand for a staggering 21 years. In the general election of the previous year it had lost its majority, but remained in office with the support of a handful of independents. By July of 1912, however, the Opposition Reform Party’s aggressive leader, Bill Massey, had lured away enough government supporters to carry a Vote of No Confidence on the Floor of the House of Representatives. The Liberal Government of Thomas Mackenzie fell 8 votes short of a majority, and Bill Massey’s Reform Party took its place on . . .

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Incite Politics

And isn’t it a long way down?

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The perils and pay-offs of moral absolutism

Small actions all-too-often bring large consequences. Golriz Ghahraman, for example, annoyed at having been publicly corrected on Twitter, responded by blocking the corrector. The perp, an Australian expert in immigration law named Simon Jeans, was flabbergasted. All he had done was challenge Ghahraman’s assertion that there are no absolute human rights. The right not to be tortured, he pointed out, was absolute. International law recognises absolutely no circumstances in which the torture of a human-being may be considered lawful . . .

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Capitalism and conservatism: Uneasy bedfellows

Why did they do it? What compelled a majority of Liberal Party MPs to turn on Malcolm Turnbull, thereby risking almost certain defeat at the ballot-box, to install, Scott Morrison, an evangelical Christian from Sydney’s leafy suburbs in the prime-ministerial Lodge? And what do the recent experiences of Australian conservatives have to teach the New Zealand National Party?

The answer, I think, lies in the beliefs and objectives which conservative politicians enter Parliament to advance . . .

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Abolition of Maori seats would spark a civil war

Was there ever a time when the Maori seats could have been abolished safely? It is tempting to suggest the year 1950, when the first National Party prime minister, Sid Holland, abolished New Zealand’s upper house, the Legislative Council. Had he tacked-on the elimination of the Maori seats and presented the whole package as a “modernisation” of the New Zealand constitution, then his government would probably have got away with it.

There would, of course, have been an outcry. Maoridom would have protested strongly, reminding Pakeha New Zealanders of the Maori Battalion’s heroic wartime contributions in North . . .

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Incite Politics

The right instincts?

What should Simon Bridges have done when the Vice-Chancellor of Massey University de-platformed Don Brash?

This is not a trick question. A political leader, constantly bombarded with random challenges requiring an instant and forceful response, cannot be seen to equivocate or dither. Either, he has the instincts of a leader, or he doesn’t. There’s no way to teach them or transplant them: a leader can only demonstrate their presence or their absence. And, if he ain’t got them, then his stint in the leader’s office is likely to be a short one . . .

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