Jim Bolger

A lesson from history for Bill English

Our commenters are observant of history, more so than our media.

A question for the history buffs:

When was the last time (if ever) a PM in NZ won a subsequent election having replaced the incumbent PM within the preceding term?

I can think of Mike Moore and Jenny Shipley – both didn’t succeed.

Not sure about the earlier ones

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A newspaper on Sunday’s editorial on John Key

A Newspaper on Sunday has an editorial that will unhinge the feral left-wing.

It is about John Key and basically cut/pastes what David Farrar has been saying about the popularity of the Prime Minister.

This Prime Minister is completing the first year of his third term more popular than any at the same stage in our lifetime.

Helen Clark, as political scientist Bryce Edwards notes in our Insight feature today, was on the back foot at this point. Going further back, Jim Bolger was replaced by Jenny Shipley barely a year into his third term.

Sir Robert Muldoon was trying to freeze inflation and faced restive elements in his caucus who wanted free-market solutions.

Key is sailing through his seventh year of office free of internal dissension, immune to opposition attacks, enjoying the confidence of business in an economic downturn and still as popular as ever. He had 64 per cent support in the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey and National was on 51 per cent, remarkable by any historical comparison.

It is the more remarkable for the fact that the third term did not begin well. The bruising “Dirty Politics” election was barely over when Northland’s MP had to resign, forcing a byelection that National handled badly, promising bridges, and lost. A waitress complained the Prime Minister persistently pulled her ponytail. Taxpayers discovered they had paid off a sheep breeder in Saudi Arabia in hope of a free-trade agreement.    Read more »

Soper comments on the ludicrous suggestion that Key have a succession plan

Barry Soper has got it dead right as he discusses the ludicrous suggestion promulgated by Fran O’Sullivan and her little band of helpers at a newspaper that John Key needed to get a succession plan in place.

He suggests that Key won’t get a say, and whoever learns to count wins.

Politics is a numbers game. Numbers determine all sorts of things: whether a party makes it into Parliament in the first place, whether a party gets to govern, whether they’re successful with legislation and in terms of this argument, whether they have the numbers to lead.

If you can’t count then you should steer clear of politics.

When your numbers are up, or you use David Farrar to run your numbers like Bill English did then things go awry.

Business leaders in a survey say National should have a leadership succession plan. They of all people should know about numbers and they should also know that in politics the idea of a successor being anointed by a leader is virtually unheard of.

Think about it, David Lange wasn’t even in Parliament when Bill Rowling became Prime Minister on the death of Big Norm Kirk. And Rowling fought three elections before Lange managed the numbers to roll him. To be fair, he won more votes than National in his final two elections, but numbers in those days weren’t as important, in terms of votes cast, as they are today under MMP.   Read more »

The problem with St Helen…she isn’t

Helen Clark wants the top UN job

I’ve noticed a few things about Labour, but the one thing that sticks out is the absolute deference they all hold towards Helen Clark.

I despise her politics, but am mature enough to recognise a superb politician.

Helen Clark took over the labour party when it was in disarray, she withstood a coup attempt and ruled the party with an iron fist for 15 years.

She moulded the party into her likeness and the two became synonymous.

The labour party was Helen Clark and Helen Clark was the Labour party.

That was Labour’s strength and it was also its Achilles heel.

Eventually the voters tired of her and Labour lost to John Key’s National party.

Now this is where it gets interesting.  Read more »

It’s time for a chat

sycophant-3I note in the comments today in the flag issue that some commenters think I am attacking JohnKey by suggesting his $30 million campaign to change the flag is wrong.

Let me tell you something dear readers…I am sick of this sort of silly accusation that somehow I am against John Key.

I am not nor will ever be in the pay of the National party. I am not even a member.

If you come to this site for a party political broadcast on behalf of the National party, or in the belief that I should operate this site in blind obeisance to St. John Key then you are in the wrong place.

I was brought up surrounded by politicians from Rob Muldoon, to Jim McLay, to Jim Bolger, to Winston Peters, to Jenny Shipley , to Bill English to Don Brash and yes to John Key….plus many supporting characters.

I have witnessed the rise and fall of many politicians. I even helped draft the caucus resolution to chuck Winston Peters from the caucus one windy, rainy Wellington night. They are gone and I am still here.

The one thing that I was brought up with was a healthy disrespect for politicians, and that healthy disrespect was encouraged and nurtured by my mother.

I watched her regularly destroy a politicians argument with reason and logic. She never cared what their position was and never shirked from telling them when they were wrong.

I learned from her that it was ok to go against the ideas and wishes of a party leader. I watched her tell off Muldoon, remonstrate with Aussie Malcolm, mock Jim Bolger and quietly whisper to Jenny Shipley…plus many others.

It is not sacrilege to oppose the flag debate…it is after all a debate…just because I am not on the side of St. John key doesn’t mean I am on the side of evil. I have simply chosen a side of a debate. David Farrar has chosen another side, it doesn’t mean we aren’t friends.

In a vibrant democracy sycophancy must be discouraged, instead reasoned and logical debate must be pursued.

John Key is not infallible, this might be news to some of you, but he isn’t. He actually does make mistakes, and you know what people are allowed to point those out.   Read more »

Three years or six? Or more?

Tim Watkin has an interesting post at Pundit about the task ahead for Labour’s new leader.

He wonders whether or not they have a three year project or a six year project in front of them.

Whoever wins, Labour won’t be a charismatic party that voters will turn to as an exciting alternative to National. Instead, whoever wins will have to win back voters’ trust through being dependable, decent and speaking to the interests of the many.

‘Decent’ recalls Jim Bolger’s ‘decent society’ slogan, and Bolger would be a pretty good role model for any winner. Not a flamboyant or visionary politician, but one who knew how to win elections.

So who to vote for? For me Labour Party members will need to start by asking themselves this question: Can Labour win in 2017?

Essentially, is this a three year or six year project? Is one of those four the next Labour Prime Minister? Because that answer suggests different people.

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Comment of the Day

One of our commenters makes an astute point:

Has Grant unshackled himself from the green caboose? He will have to publicly do that before Winston will talk to him in any meaningful way.

Spot on Euan.

Winston won’t do a deal with the Greens, so if he is alive at the next election Grant will need to work out how to shaft the Greens and do a deal with Winston.

Someone in the MSM should talk to Winston and find out who he reckons should be Labour leader.

Meanwhile new lefty blogger Josh Forman explains his own thoughts on Winston Peters and Labour.

With Winston Peters embarking on what is almost certainly going to be his last term in the New Zealand Parliament he is looking to secure the future of the party he founded after splitting with National in 1993 after being sacked by then PM Jim Bolger to years earlier.   Read more »

Beware the cult of personality, and the legacy they leave

Embed from Getty Images

Over the past few days I have received more than a few random emails about a couple of posts where I dared to criticise John Key. I have also had some personal approaches.

Apparently my audience will be affected negatively by criticising John Key. He also is the saviour of the National party and without him National would be stuffed.

Ignore the fact that he shamelessly used one of my private emails to conduct a personal hit on a friend, and ignore the fact that he thinks I should just accept it as “mo hard hard feelings”. I say ignore those because they have absolutely no bearing on my criticism of John Key.

I criticise him because I am alarmed that National is falling into the same traps that Helen Clark fell into.

The trap of creating a cult of personality.

Let me explain.

Labour’s current predicament has come about as a result of 15 years of a cult of personality in Helen Clark. Where she was the labour party and the Labour party was her. She purged the party of those who thought even a little differently. She populated caucus with sycophants, and she sacked good honest brokers in her office and replaced them with forelock tugging apparatchiks. She created the party in her image, the photoshopped one not the real you can break bottles on her face image.

When the public saw behind the photoshop they they recoiled. The party was destroyed in the 2008 election and she promptly departed for greener pastures.

But her legacy remains. Decidedly average MPs, middle manager types who were already promoted beyond their abilities. She left a caucus highly factionalised so there was no dominant faction unable to topple her. But the worst aspect was she left the party in the hands of hard left organisers who bizarrely think that the path to salvation is to be more hard left.

The funniest thing of all is there is still no one inside Labour who will ever hear a bad word said about Helen Clark.  Read more »

Four terms or Five?

David Farrar didn’t believe that National could entertain winning four terms, but the scale of the defeat of the left has forced him to re-evaluate this thinking.

I had even mentally drafted a blog post intended for the day after the election, in case of a National victory, in which somewhat somberly I would have stated that while it is great National got a third term, MPs should realise that this is probably their last term in Government. The post would have been about how they need to secure the policy gains of the last six years, so as many of them as possible can’t be reversed, and also how if they can go into opposition with a relatively solid vote, then maybe there will be just two terms in opposition.

The nature of the election result has changed that. A fourth, or even a fifth term, is now a very credible possibility. I’m not saying a probability, but definitely a credible possibility. Here’s why:

  1. National’s 48% is the sort of result you get in your first term, not your last term
  2. The left vote totalled just 36%, and they need to grow this by 12% if they want to be able to govern, without being dependent on what Winston may decide
  3. The Conservatives could well make 5% in 2017, giving National an extra buffer
  4. John Key is now very likely to contest the 2017 election. Previously I would have said it was 60/40 at best.
  5. Labour’s leadership battle is turning off the public, and may leave the party divided and wrecked

I thought like Farrar.

If National won it was likely to be a narrow victory, with few partners and  the left on the rise I though John Key would jack it in and go out as a winning PM rather than risk being turfed out. Now I am certain that the next election is a certain victory for National, perhaps with some support partners. John Key will now look to best Keith Holyoake’s record and win a fourth term and cement his place in history. Holyoake served just under 12 years as PM therefore the winning of a fourth term means that John Key would easily pass that record. Key is now fast approaching the records of Helen Clark (8 years, 350 days ),Edward Stafford (8 years, 326 days), Robert Muldoon (8 years, 227 days ), Sid Holland (7 years, 281 days), Joseph Ward (7 years, 38 days), and Jim Bolger (7 years, 36 days), which will all fall this term.  Read more »

Armstrong on Joyce and Cunliffe

John Armstrong critiques Steven Joyce’s virtuoso performance in the house where he rinsed Cunliffe.

Joyce took the first call in Wednesday afternoon’s general debate — long a platform for Parliament’s better orators — to parody Labour’s under-the-weather David Cunliffe in a fashion that was as clever as it was cruel as it was funny.

Within the space of a five-minute speech, Joyce had revealed another weapon in his armoury — the ability to cut an opponent down by sheer wit — and thereby further enhanced his credentials as the frontrunner for National’s leadership when Key finally moves on.

There was, however, another interesting outcome from his contribution — its impact on those sitting opposite him.

Cunliffe was not in the chamber. But those Labour MPs who were initially tried to ignore what was a virtuoso performance. But their barely suppressed smiles gave the game away.

If any group of people could do with a bit of a laugh it is Cunliffe’s colleagues.They have watched in increasing despair as their leader of just 10 months has virtually self-destructed and taken the party’s support down with him from the mid-30s to the mid-20s in percentage terms. Cunliffe is now very much marooned in a malaise from which it is almost impossible for a Leader of the Opposition to drag himself or herself out.

You can do nothing right. Every opinion poll just brings even more bad news. No one takes you seriously. You become the target of every cheap joke and jibe. The media spit on what remains of your dignity. The public write you off. In short, you are deemed to be terminal. You then wait for the firing squad — the knock on the door from a delegation of your MPs who have determined your use-by date has long passed and your ability to resuscitate your party’s flagging support is seen as likely as a squadron of pigs gliding past the Beehive.

Read more »