Written By: - Date published: 9:46 am, July 29th, 2018 - 112 comments
Categories: education, john key, national, same old national, Simon Bridges, uncategorized - Tags: audrey young, claire trevett, nzherald, stacey kirk
Reading the media leading up to this weekend’s National Party Conference I could not believe how uniform the analysis was. Basically cheerleading stuff. Everything is fine. National’s polling was great and it is early days for Simon Bridges.
It brought back for me strong memories of David Cunliffe’s early months as Labour’s leader. I appreciate that the situation back then was complex but the contrast in treatment is startling …
Stacey Kirk was first up. In as idolatry fawning piece of writing you can imagine she reviewed his early days as a tough nut prosecutor.
It starts with this:
Politicians are routinely accused of speaking for effect, but when it comes to law and order, National Party leader Simon Bridges has walked the walk. Have his crime-fighting days warped his view?
She then reviewed his first major case and suggested that he, single handedly, put a bad bastard away for 21 years. My 34 years in the law allows me to note that most cases are fairly predictable in their outcome, and a domestic violence case where death ensues from stabbing and there is ample evidence of premeditation and there is only one suspect is generally a foregone conclusion. Also police do the donkey work in these cases. The Crown lawyer is there to present rather than formulate.
She lets Bridges conclude with as good a piece of political propaganda as you could hope for:
Now, as the current Government looks at possible areas for major reform, Labour and National are locked in a battle over how to reduce prisoner numbers and the potential outcome of building a new prison that most official forecasts suggest doesn’t come close to being big enough.
“What my experience in cases like Robertson, Reihana and others shows me is that if you have softer bail laws, sentencing laws and parole laws like some of those proposed, what you’ll effectively do is make the system work less well and you’ll see more crime, more victims,” he says.
But the “easy option” was no option.
“That doesn’t work for me, and I don’t think it works for most New Zealanders because it may mean fewer people in jails, but ultimately mean more crime on the streets.”
I should not be surprised. Kirk has form for this sort of fawning PR piece about National.
The Herald has also lept in and provided support for Bridges, specifically about National’s recent polling.
First up was Audrey Young who a few days ago let Bridges frame his dismal polling in this way:
So did the voters like him?
“Yeah I think they did. I’d often had the remark that ‘you’re pretty good, we like you, we like what you’re doing’.”
Likeability was important, said Bridges, but it was not the only factor. Work-rate mattered and giving people a sense that you are capable of doing the big job.
“I want to make sure I keep improving. I am a work in progress. I want to evolve. I want to make sure I am rounded in my policy bearings. I want to make sure I feel sharper today that I did even a month ago, that a month ago I was sharper than I was two months ago, that I’m sharp, that I’m giving direct clear answers to the media on behalf of New Zealanders.”
She then makes these comments about his polling:
… [T]he party’s polling average last month was 45.1 per cent, compared to Labour on 42.8 per cent, the Greens on 5.4 per cent and New Zealand First on 3.3 per cent (compiled by Curia on public polls including TV1’s Colmar Brunton and Newshub’s Reid Research).
Bridges himself has pretty dismal ratings as preferred Prime Minister against Jacinda Ardern (9 per cent vs 40 per cent in the latest Reid Research poll and 12 per cent vs 41 per cent in Colmar Brunton’s).
She ignores other polling reported by the Herald that suggested that the Greens and New Zealand First were both doing fine and Labour and National were neck and neck.
Then Claire Trevett let independent political commentator John Key get away with some pretty egregiously biased political analysis in these paragraphs:
Although National’s party polling has held up around 45 and 46 per cent, Bridges is still polling low numbers as preferred Prime Minister, especially compared to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Key’s own rankings were comparatively high from the moment he took over in 2006 and peaked at around 70 per cent in some polls when he was Prime Minister, but he said it was primarily a name recognition thing.
“Of course there will always be a focus on his personal numbers, but preferred Prime Minister is, in many respects, a name recognition issue. The incumbency gives you an enormous amount of benefit in that regard.
“Personally, I don’t have any concerns at all about Simon’s current personal numbers. I think the party numbers are ultimately what really matters and the other numbers will naturally track up over time.”
The outstanding feature of each of these articles is the complete absence of a contrary view, especially important where there is comment suggesting that National’s polling may not be so rosy.
The conference itself is somewhat starting. The level of choreography is high, it is as if the top brass are afraid to let their members say anything, I wonder why.
Yesterday’s big news was the return of charter schools and the writing off of Winston Peters as a possible coalition partner.
The charter schools announcement was frankly weird. Is this the best they can do? Pretend that Labour does not support poor kids by coming up with a policy from the United States whose sole actual aim is to bust the education unions?
And you have to wonder what policy will National announce next?
Breaking: Simon Bridges announces that anyone moved into social housing by Labour will be sent back to sleep in their cars in the first year of a new National government.
— GeeBee (@garthbiggs) July 28, 2018
As for the comments disparaging Winston Peters it is clear what National’s strategy will be, even now, to destroy the Greens and New Zealand First and then beat Labour in a drag race. Good luck with that. Clearly National still does not understand MMP.
This was reinforced by its choice of keynote speaker, John Howard, who was Australian Prime Minister a gazillion years ago and won an election by lying about the Tampa refugees. Howard marked the occasion by suggesting that National was robbed of the last election. His intolerance of minorities clearly extends to minor parties.
Simon Bridges claims that Howard is his hero but at the same time clearly has no idea of Howard’s past. Way to inspire confidence Simon.
Simon Bridges says John Howard is his absolute hero but pleads ignorance on his treatment of indigenous people PLUS Bridges v Winston – Peters attacks Bridges for capitalising on being Maori @NewshubPolitics https://t.co/E44tva3I2t
— Tova O'Brien (@TovaOBrien) July 28, 2018
Bridges big speech is today. Expect something heavy on rhetoric, decrying the lack of business confidence, and short of specifics or vision.