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Disunity, leaks, and poor behaviour

Written By: - Date published: 7:35 am, March 10th, 2021 - 27 comments
Categories: john key, Judith Collins, national, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags:

National’s review of its 2020 election performance has been completed.

The contents are that bad that it will not share the results with its members and you get the feeling that hard copies only will be given to caucus members, complete with data that will identify the leaker if the contents are leaked.  But maybe it is even worse.

Shane Reti on Radio New Zealand just about confirmed that the copy will indeed be in a reading room.  Caucus meetings must be real fun right now.

Radio New Zealand has this description of the review:

The review was launched in the aftermath of the election and extended to the past three years in opposition.

The party’s caucus shrank dramatically following the election, with 23 fewer seats in Parliament than the last election.

National’s leader Judith Collins remained tight-lipped on the contents of the report.

“This is a board review, it is a matter for the the National Party board and I’ll be discussing it with caucus,” Collins said.

National’s senior whip Matt Doocey was among those who had already read the report before today’s caucus meeting.

He described its contents as “confronting”.

“It is something we are going to have to own, gain trust back in our members and learn from and take a step forward for the next election,” he said.

Former leader Simon Bridges deflected questions about the report, instead opting to talk about the Oprah Winfrey interview.

“I thought you were going to ask me about Harry and Meghan – as an avid royal watcher myself I’ve got a lot of thoughts on all of that – but in relation to the report, who knows, we are going to discuss it at caucus today,” Bridges said.

While speaking to reporters, Bridges stood next to Todd Muller, the man who rolled him as party leader last year.

The pair did not answer questions on their roles in the party’s defeat last year.

“I don’t like this line of questioning, particularly when I though it was about Meghan and Harry, so I’m going to leave right now,” Bridges said.

It is not hard to work out what the recommendations are, or at least should be:

  1. Stop leaking.
  2. Get a new group of MPs elected who are at least human and who represent the diversity of Aotearoa New Zealand.
  3. The leader has to be anyone but Judith.
  4. Disclosure of National’s fundraising techniques by Jami-Lee Ross has created this awful smell around the party that has not abated.
  5. The Christian right represent a real threat to National’s need to present itself as being a future looking inclusive party.
  6. Simon Bridges is having far too much fun.

National’s basic problem is that their issues cannot be solved by everyone having a cup of tea and a chat.

Believe me I lived through Labour in the 2010s and I have seen how this works out.

It is quite surprising but Labour was much more brutal in the way that it handled caucus unity.  National’s weakness is exemplified by the fact they still cannot do anything about it.  The divisions are far too deep and the factions far too polarised for anyone to exert power.

Just look at how Simon Bridges has behaved recently.  Making jokes about the report exemplifies that he is still hurting from being deposed.  And still planning and scheming.

John Key, perhaps National’s most successful leader, entered Parliament in 2002 but did not become PM until 2008 and made National united and focussed.

Looking at the current caucus they may not have the next John Key in their ranks.

27 comments on “Disunity, leaks, and poor behaviour ”

  1. With reference to your last sentence, I sincerely hope not. The last thing this country needs is another amoral sociopath leading us the wrong way!

  2. Reality 2

    National needs to be more selective in choosing their candidates. Too many thoroughly disreputable types surfaced over the last few years.

    • Chris 2.1

      And the tactics employed when candidates are being selected. All that nasty Slater/Lusk stuff about shafting their own to get particular candidates in, Lusk's "MP" school etc. It's the lingering smell of all that stuff that's preventing them from getting their act together. Let's hope it continues.

    • Patricia Bremner 2.2

      The window on selection was seen in Whaleoil and co scheming.

  3. Muttonbird 3

    It is important you bring up John Key because today's National party is because of him. Today's National party is his legacy.

    And it is concerning for today's National party that the very people who have extended and intensified the poisonous culture that John Key nurtured are still in charge. They are controlling the very report which is supposed to engender change. These people are Peter Goodfellow and Judith Collins.

    Judith Collins needed to be sunk when Dirty Politics came out but Key brought her back and this is the result!

    And leaks. Leaks are a symptom of disunity, not a cause. Get your office right and it doesn't happen. It's highly corrupt for Goodfellow to be holding up leaks as the primary cause for his party’s failings because these leaks are simply attempts at trying to remove the real cause…Judith Anne Collins.

    • gsays 3.1

      Funny you mention 'today's National Party', that is the problem, it's essentially the same as mid last century National Party.

      What do they stand for?

      It is clear what they stand against, progressive policies ( drug testing at festivals), housing reform, reducing inequality eg protecting the landlord class and the 'haves'.

  4. Sacha 4

    They are framing their loss as being only about 'disunity' rather than appalling policy and candidate selections. You can bet the report has some things to say about Goodfellow that he does not want widely aired.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    National well earned this kind of pain and humiliation–from “cash in brown paper bags” funding, to “Merv”, to the online shaming of their own Auck. Central woman candidate Nuwanthie Samarakone, and Todd Muller/Hooton, and…

    It is rather difficult to enjoy this spectacle of degradation as much as is appropriate after almost 3 terms of Mr Key though, when Labour seems determined to royally and comprehensively blow its once in a generation opportunity as a majority MMP Govt.

    The 2023 Election campaign is written already for the Greens and Māori Party, and maybe yet another new party to promote–just list the major things the neoliberal Labour Caucus will not do and ask for electorate support. Housing, rent freeze, 50,000 state house build, wealth tax, Basic Income, wiping of all student and WINZ debts, Fair Pay Agreements, etc.

    p.s. Long may the Nats stay on the spit over the fire they totally lit themselves.

    p.p.s. Māori and Pacific Labour MPs could likely break the “Rogernomics” impasse by forming a united bloc and delivering Caucus a set of demands.

  6. AB 6

    The takeaway is that Jacinda should keep pushing National to the freakish fringes of the far right – and open up plenty of space on her left flank.

    • Chris 6.1

      National is already on the fringes of the far right. The task is to get NZers understanding that. Opening space on the left is the key to other side of the same equation, which Labour and Ardern aren't prepared to do, so we're destined, right now anyway, for some kind of waffly hybrid the voting public will pretty soon get sick of and decide to bring the nats back for the same sickeningly unthinking reason they did in 2008, which was "it's time for a change". Clark gave voters nothing different from what the nats had on offer so voters became indifferent. Until Ardern sees the light she runs the same risk.

      • Michael 6.1.1

        Agree. The only alternative on offer to Labour's neoliberalism is Natiional's Far Right iteration. It's dangerous.

  7. Peter 7

    They don't trust the caucus with the report? The fear is someone will go dog and release it?

    Why wouldn't they act like a mongrel dog and so that? You treat them like dogs, have no trust and faith, that's how they're going to react.

    To wit, party internal polling being shared with caucus. They had ongoing internal polling and didn't share the results with caucus? They'd developed a culture of no trust which meant that essential information like that couldn't be shared? With the 'team.'

    The Team who we were to trust, whose abilities we were meant to have faith in?

  8. Pat 8

    I would imagine the content of the report will leak even if an actual copy isnt provided to media one way or another.

    • Chris 8.1

      Yes, hopefully. Collins can't see that the problem she has is her. The nats can never unify under her leadership. It's great that right now there doesn't seem to be signs of her moving on, but I guess that can change pretty quickly. Early days I suppose, but the longer Collins stays on the longer Ardern's job is that tiny bit more secure – tiny, mind you. Ardern's time will come. The question is when. She'd better get a move on. People are getting tired.

  9. mac1 9

    Goodfellow writes in an e-mail. “In order to rebuild that trust and unity, we must start from the ground up by openly sharing a summary of the results of the review with members, and demonstrating we mean business by the actions we take,” the email said.

    So, who writes the summary? The writer/s of the report, or the Board?

  10. mac1 10

    The party wants to gain trust back from its members. This from a party that is issuing a report that will have identifiers to know who any prospective leaker would be as they are so trustful of the members.

    Reading rooms, non-disclosure agreements, individually identifiable documents? FFS.

    Summaries of a report for members only, written by who knows who with that ever stake in the matter.

    Here is a summary of that summary. "Some errors made….. minor…… limited damage……perpetrators have left……donations still high…. public confidence high…… covid-19…….. biased media……. trust us…. we'd be in government now but for Winston…. great new team….. no real problems that firm leadership and the new whips can't handle…… former Whip was the problem…. the future… internal polling…. focus groups tell us….. membership growing….. trust us…. "

  11. Stuart Munro 11

    I expect Boag will largely escape criticism for her role in constructing a toxic and ineffectual party culture, just as she did when she led the campaign that brought Bill English to the party's (up until Jacinda at least) worst contemporary electoral defeat.

    All a bit irrelevant though – many fools, both young and old, that need to be retired, and neither credible policies nor much suggestion of leadership. Poor Judith, doomed to try to make silk purses out of such unpromising swatches of superfluous skin. No wonder she's bitter.

  12. Rapunzel 12

    "Bridges stood next to Todd Muller" well someone who's looked at the election candidate returns should ask them where the massive local donation funding 2014-17 they both benefited from disappeared to. It was basically from one source, except for Muller in 2014 & it's absence for 2020 means they both had to be funded from the National Party dwindling funds. It's all a matter of public access free for anyone to see. How coincidental they were in the end both failed leaders is another matter

  13. George 13

    It seems like National are suffering the same affliction as the republican party in America. It has a right and an extreme right which creates internal conflict. The extreme right hold the financial cards and are reactionary traditionalists. They're only going to grab votes by appealing to extreme groups as their base demographic has been dying off for the last decade and the world is changing beyond the belief system they employ.

    The others are almost radical leftists in comparison but they are the old national party centrists.

    It's ironic that a party waffling on about " cancel culture" and lack of open and free speech has now cancelled out having open and free discussion about it s own internal enquiry into itself. It begs the question…does the document self destruct after each reading? Do they have to enter the room through the roof on a line? Dodging lasers? So much irony…

  14. KJT 14

    National is still ignoring the main reason they lost.

    Conservatives like to feel safe.

    The yo yo-ing from National, about borders, makes them feel unsafe.

  15. infused 15

    Act are basically the new National.

    • Morrissey 15.1

      Not exactly. National, for all its faults, is not entirely comprised of loons and buffoons.

      • Michael 15.1.1

        Are you sure about that? It seems to me that loons and bufoons are all they've got remaining in their ranks.

  16. Stuart Munro 16

    The leaking has already begun from the National Party’s top-secret report on their disastrous 2020 election campaign. It’s a fraught issue, illustrating just how dysfunctional and divisive things still are inside National.

    Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: National’s blame game, secrecy and dysfunction | Evening Report

  17. Sacha 17

    DomPost editorialises: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/opinion/300250217/review-release-shows-national-has-not-learned-lessons-of-the-past

    No-one would have expected a warts-and-all retelling of the trainwreck that the party and election campaign had become, but as other important conservative institutions have discovered this week, clinging too tightly to power can undermine your hold on it.

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