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National’s civil war continues

Written By: - Date published: 9:08 am, August 9th, 2021 - 25 comments
Categories: john key, Judith Collins, national, racism, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags:

I feel like I write too much about National’s problems.  But the problem is they keep offering up material.  Their party is clearly in deep, deep trouble.

This weekend the party held its Unity Conference.  If this was a Unity Conference I would hate to see what a Disunity Conference looks like.  And I have been to one or two of those, not for many years but I know what the feeling is like.

They started off rather weirdly with a culturally respectful beginning to the conference.  It is as if Judith Collins’ continuous dog whistle blowing in the name of Demanding the Debate was an attention seeking scam.  I am pleased that the Party is indeed respectful of Te Ao Maori and that it went as far as singing the National Anthem in Te Reo as well as English even if the Te Reo version has the dreaded word “Aotearoa” in it.

Judith gave her speech.  It was a hotchpotch of sound bites and within sentences was able to criticise Labour for doing nothing and doing things too fast.  It was also full of what are euphemistically called fibs.  Like the claim that banning future exploration of oil and gas has caused the current electricity shortage.

He Puapua received three mentions and the Mongrel Mob received four.  We are going to have at least two more years of this.

The Covid response was mentioned along with the word “shambles”.  Judith and her speech writers need to read up on what is happening overseas.

There was precious little policy announced, apart from a promise to reverse some of Labour’s changes and hold a tech summit.  You get the feeling that if National lasts to 2031 its major policy will be to hold a tech summit.

Collins concluded by saying that “[w]e are better together”.  She should tell that to her caucus.

The jaw dropping event was the re-election of Peter Goodfellow as National President.  Lefties throughout the country celebrated.  More of the same is exactly what is not in National’s interests right now but this is now their problem.

The result caused former Cabinet Minister David Carter to throw his toys out of the cot and publicly resign from the board and express no support for the leadership or for the party’s chances at the next election.  From Jane Patterson at Radio New Zealand:

Judith Collins remains party leader and this weekend the board re-elected Peter Goodfellow as president.

Both are under enormous pressure to restore the party’s fortunes but the burden of the 2020 loss is heavy. The 2023 election is “winnable”, assured Collins in her speech, however that remains a distant dream, with her challenge first to fully reunite the caucus and re-engage the voting public.

One man convinced the party has taken a disastrous path keeping Goodfellow on as president is former MP, Cabinet minister and Speaker, David Carter, who broke ranks in a extraordinary manner.

After nine months on the board Carter quit in protest after unsuccessfully contesting the presidency; it was so abrupt Goodfellow had to announce his departure to a clearly surprised crowd in his own speech accepting the position. Carter was already on his way to the airport.

His reasons: “Zero” confidence in Goodfellow, the party will never rebuild under his watch, the board is run in a dysfunctional manner and the money is no longer flowing in.

Not sour grapes, insists Carter, he has plenty going on but won’t “waste time” on a board when he has such a low opinion of the chair.

Collins’s problems continue.  A Newshub Reid Research poll states that 47.9% of National supporters think that she should be replaced as leader before the next election. And John Key refused to say that she will win.

But when it comes to endorsements for National leaders, not even some in Collins’ party believe she’s the leader to get them into Government next election.

Key isn’t convinced she’ll hold onto the job for the next election either. He says Collins is “working really hard” as the leader, but wouldn’t answer if he believes she’ll be rolled by the next election.

“Ultimately that’s in the hands of the caucus and the public,” he says.

“I think she’ll be a great prime minister if she gets that opportunity.”

The conference concluded with a dance off between Simon Bridges and Judith Collins.  I think Bridges won but only because he made a greater spectacle of himself.

The conference has been compared to the Labour conference of 2012.  Having been a participant in what happened at that conference I am in a position to comment.  At that conference grass roots organisation managed to get through changes to the party’s constitution that increased the ability for rank and file to have a say in who the party’s leader should be.  This was despite the senior levels of the party opposing the changes.  Things blew up after that but on the first day a majority of members used their democratic right to make change.  This weekend at National’s conference nothing of the sort happened.

And the comparison in the treatment of David Cunliffe then and Simon Bridges now is startling.  Cunliffe was demoted and ostracised for not pledging support for Shearer.  This year Bridges was able to sell his book at the conference.

All I can say is how pleased I am with National’s conference.  Winning the next Election is that much easier thanks to what happened.

25 comments on “National’s civil war continues ”

  1. Enough is Enough 1

    With National everything is about the almighty $.

    Goodfellow guarantees them plenty of that. In their worst year in history, he still generated $3M in donations.

    That is how short sighted they are.

  2. AB 2

    John Key was there saying MIQ was a failure and that vaccinated NZers abroad should be allowed in with just home quarantine. The 'journalist' concerned did not ask him if he was aware that vaccinated people could both catch and transmit the virus, and that therefore, if home quarantine was not secure (which it isn't) they could be transmitting the Delta variant to a partially vaccinated population.

    When he inevitably fluffed his response to that question and rambled about being "comfortable" with it (or some such meaningless greasiness), the next step would be to offer him the only three possible explanations for his comments: that he is ignorant/stupid and doesn't know the facts, that he does know the facts and is just reckless/insane and wants to put 'business' first, or that he is just mischief-making for political advantage. But none of that happened.

    Time for the Nats to fold their tent and disappear out the back door of history. Otherwise they are a constant menace – always lurking and waiting for their chance to make all the major problems we face even worse.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    Fair enough Micky to detail NZ National’s travails–a party full of dirty filthy tories–now openly split into urban, rural, libertarian, old school reactionary, and religious nutter factions! Who could not quietly enjoy such a spectacle after what the Key years put this country through.

    Was “Merv from Manurewa”–former Board member Roger Bridge– anywhere to be seen?

    But…this current, first and likely last for a while, majority MMP Labour Govt. better get the steel caps on and start telling the senior officials where it is at. The Deputy PM has an Implementation Unit that at least tells us there is some awareness of the intransigence in certain Ministries.

    Likely too little (no pun etc.) too late though when WINZ/MSD remain as punitive and sadistic as they ever were. Sanctioning, standing down, moralising and instituting what are effectively life time debts on vulnerable working class people.

    • Michael 3.1

      Great reply. Bureaucrats are still running the system on National Party settings, which Labour is either unwilling or unable to change. Public tolerance for BAU has worn thin. The Nats' know how to dog whistle and manipulate the very people (non-rich) they actively shaft while in govt themselves. If Labour can't deliver meaningful improvements to the lives of non-rich people, they will march off to the Right, with Crusher playing the part of the Pied Piper.

  4. Chris 4

    Positive results from the Kahukura programme will help shut them up… Let’s hope we see some soon.

  5. I guess they figured that dumping their current President would be seen as yet more evidence of National's disarray? Better to keep PG on and retain what little cohesion is left.

  6. Reality 6

    Collins and Bridges dancing on stage was bizarre! Trying so hard to "have fun" but like the praying in church episode it was staged and phoney.

    Interesting to read in Stuff Des Gorman was at the conference. No surprise there. He is National's best buddie, opposing everything the Government does re Covid.

    • Anne 6.1

      Collins and Bridges dancing on stage was bizarre!

      It was downright grotesque! And was that Luxon gyrating on the right? Yikes!

      I was also present at the 2012 Labour conference and recall talking about my observations on this site. For my efforts I was sent to Coventry by a few Labour luminaries and it was made clear to me I was no longer a member of their circle. It was not a tear shedding moment.

      Labour members have a habit of reminding their hierarchy that the party belongs to the members and they retain their exalted positions at the courtesy of those members. National members are like a herd of baaing sheep who are happy to be pushed and prodded in whatever direction their hierarchy wish to take.

      In other words the Nats operate from the top down while Labour is more into the bottom up approach. (which sounds vaguely rude but is not meant as such 😳 )

      • Michael 6.1.1

        Labour's hierarchical too. It seems to have modelled itself on the nats, at least as far as power and control are concerned. Branches are largely a thing of the past, while LECs exist just to rubber stamp Head Office edicts. HO, in turn, is dominated by the Leader of the Parliamentary Wing's office. No space for genuine grass roots democracy.

  7. tc 7

    Let them burn to the ground.

    Disgraceful mob looking for a 'leader' to con NZ into more terms of plunder whilst quaking in fear at the incumbent.

    Brown, penk, bishop, hipango, Stanford, brownlee, woodhouse etc is what passes for talent in national. Underwhelming at best dangerous if elected.

  8. newsense 8

    So just to get this straight, Collins gave a speech announcing mass debate was the main thing the Nats wanted to do?

  9. Patricia Bremner 9

    National need an Andrew Little and a Jacinda Ardern.

    Thankfully they would not select them if they had, as their method would preclude choosing them on qualities recognised by the members.

    We look at Key and wonder how he dodged being exposed as a front, then we look a a number of journalists who fawned on him.. 'nuff said.

    Thank you Andrew, thank you Jacinda and Labour team, saving us from that lot.

    May you continue the good work and have at least two more terms to get projects completed. Righting many wrongs during a pandemic is difficult, but you are making progress in spite of recalcitrant ministry bods.

    We know we are in safe hands, and along with the Greens you will try to do what is best for Aotearoa and the people, unlike some who used their positions for selfish ends.

    I am a labour /green supporter, and am more proud of my choice every day.

  10. Incognito 10

    The new board members were leaked to a National Party meme page, which Stuff understands has prompted some upset.

    Collins defended the lack of rural members by pointing out she had a rural background herself, and that the National Party elected the best people for roles without quotas.


    All is well on Planet Key.

    • tc 10.1

      Surely she's been misquoted which's easy as 'bent' is close to 'best'.

      Let's not forget she's ace at faith also now.

  11. Stephen D 11

    The Nat Board no longer has a farmer on it.

    ACT are making inroads in rural communities.

    What chance that at the next election ACT and the Nats get about 20% each?

    • I Feel Love 11.1

      I must say I'd prefer National any day over ACT.

    • mac1 11.2

      If ACT takes over the role as a conservative rural party from National, then that leaves National to the other major right wing role of urban liberal at which it has very poor credentials at the moment with both its MPs and policies, instanced by its refusal to even see the recent Bill on gender reassignment go to a select committee to receive submissions and allow further debate.

  12. Pete 12

    Are people going to not vote for National because they are a rabble? Are they going to vote Act because The Boy Wonder is always so sensible?

    Are they going to not vote Labour because of poverty, housing, roading? And not vote for anyone? Or vote Act?

    As Stephen (above) says Act/Nat could cobble together 40%. They are marginally under that right now. They have plenty of time to get their crap together and most importantly, Labour has plenty more time to not impress.

  13. RP Mcmurphy 13

    nationals are the party of snobs who think they are better than the rest of us and who want power to loot the treasury. pad the payrolls and break up the state for the preferment of their mates

  14. newsense 14

    If Collins falls hard she’ll get treated like Cunliffe. Both old party hands who pissed off people in and out of their parties. If she gets a bit of distance back she’ll be remembered more kindly than DC.
    Bridges getting sympathy. Cunliffe got a run and f-d it up. If Bridges had gone down in flames at the election the Nats and the media would have got him out of their system.

  15. RP Mcmurphy 15

    when hootgen was still persona grata at the nationals party his big meme was shambolic. now the the nationals are worse than that. they are on complete disarray. their greed is overriding any principles of decent behaviour that is if they ever had any.

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