Last in our â€˜campaign strategist’ series is UnitedFuture, perhaps the least inspiring party in Parliament.
UnitedFuture (ie. Peter Dunne) should play the same strategy as was used in 2002. Keep your head down, shore up support in Dunne’s safe seat of Ohariu/Belmont and wait for a chance to present itself to make a splash. That chance will probably be the Leaders’ debate, as it was in 2002.
The debate will be late in the campaign. United Future’s target niche, the politically disengaged upper-middle class, will be tired of all this political stuff, complex policies, and attack politics. They will also be worried that a Labour-led Government would find itself at the behest of the Greens or a National-led one would be at the mercy of ACT; they’re practically crying out for a mild, boring alternative that will let them rest assured that their comfortable, privileged status quo will go undisturbed. That is Dunne’s cue. As in 2002, he should stride out onto the stage and say â€˜reasonable’, â€˜common sense’, â€˜sensible’, and â€˜consensus’ ad nauseam. Hopefully, as in 2002, the target niche will swoon over this mysterious stranger who says nothing, which exactly what they want to hear, and United Future’s vote will suddenly spike. The media, as in 2002, will go all aflutter over this come from nowhere party, and the momentum will carry through to election day.
Don’t worry about policy, don’t worry about offering a preferred coalition partner (we all know it’s National), don’t worry about having a vision to solve the serious environmental, social, and economic issues facing New Zealand. Just come out of nowhere as Mr Bland and the disengaged, risk-adverse, upper-middle class will be yours again. But remember, it’s a one shot strategy; Dunne has to get it right on the night.