National’s leadership problem

Written By: - Date published: 7:48 am, March 30th, 2021 - 42 comments
Categories: Christopher Luxon, Judith Collins, national, Parliament, same old national, uncategorized - Tags:

Call me biased but I cannot think of a time where National has been more messy.  It used to be a highly disciplined party.  Leaks were rare and were evidence of extreme factional tension.

This has been blown out of the water by events over the past couple of years.  Jami-Lee Ross did the country a favour by showing what was really happening in the background.

Judith Collins’ selection as leader was evidence of two things, no faction was in control and the leadership was seen as a poisoned chalice.  Leader of the Opposition is rightfully said to be the worst job in politics and being the leader of the opposition after receiving an electoral trashing must really suck.

The sharks are circling.  Last week Chris Luxon gave his maiden speech in Parliament and led up to the speech with some social media.  As much as you can from a twitter account that has 879 followers including me.

The speech itself was a finely crafted series of words that said essentially nothing.  It had a number of injections of Te Reo, celebrated diversity, talked about hard work, worried about how his electorate was underserved by public services, had the traditional working class reference to his Irish Miner ancestors, and celebrated family.  But it also talked about his work experience with a Multinational Corporation although he said that down to earth kiwis could be as good as “Oxbridge set from England, Ivy League – educated Americans, and born-confident Australians”.  Wrong answer Chris, they are better.

He paid homage to his class:

Over my career, I’ve come to believe more and more strongly that successful businesses have a critical responsibility to engage on the economic, the social, and the environmental issues a country faces. Making a difference to people’s daily lives is a shared responsibility between Government, community, and also business.

He celebrated his time at Air New Zealand and presented a tick box list of progressive achievements.  He said this:

In my time, Air New Zealand employed 12,500 people, and it represented a cross-section of New Zealand life. As CEO, I had the opportunity to get things done and demonstrate that a business could do well by doing good. For example, we decided that New Zealand’s shameful record on family violence was a workplace issue, not just a social issue, and so we introduced a three-week paid family violence leave policy for victims. The pay equity gap at Air New Zealand was reduced to zero, and we introduced a 26-week paid parental leave policy. Senior leadership team positions held by women went from 16 percent to 44 percent. We worked hard to grow career pathways and internships for young Māori and Pasifika. We worked hard to champion and mainstream te reo and tā moko. We earned Gender and Rainbow Tick certifications. Air New Zealand was also a foundation member of the Climate Leaders Coalition, and 100 percent of our company car fleet became fully electric—and that was over five years ago. When the business delivered superior commercial returns, we shared those profits with our employees through a company performance bonus. The principle was simple: when Air New Zealand did well, all our staff should do well too.”

He also addressed his faith, which has something of an Achilles heel.  He attends a fundamentalist church that did some weird stuff with its twitter feed when the spotlight was applied.  He said this:

It seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being extreme; so I will say a little about my Christian faith. It has anchored me, given my life purpose, and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people. I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance, and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate, or reject people; he loves unconditionally.

Through history, we have seen Christians making a huge difference by entering public life. Christian abolitionists fought against slavery; others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate. The world is a better place for Christians like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.

My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the State, and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others. As MPs, we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders; not one religion, not one group, not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith, nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views.

Basically it was a well crafted concerted attempt to present him as a moderate centrist, and read like something John Key would have said with parts personalised to suit Luxon.

I have spent a bit of time on his speech because yesterday yet another leak further undermines National’s perception of unity.

The go to recipient of leaks, Tova O’Brien dropped yet another bombshell.  From Newshub:

Newshub can reveal yet more discord in the National Party, this time over fluoridation – in an extremely rare move, MPs voted down the leadership on a key health policy.

The Government has proposed making Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield responsible for fluoride in water to protect Kiwis and their kids’ teeth, rather than the region-by-region approach.

National’s leadership, Judith Collins and her deputy Dr Shane Reti wanted National to oppose the proposed changes, believing it to be an overreach. But the caucus disagreed and voted the leadership down.

It doesn’t bode well for Collins. It’s not a good day in the leadership office when your MPs override your decision on an important public health issue.

National MPs have told Newshub this is incredibly rare and almost unheard of.

One National MP said it’s even rare to have these votes in caucus, and that it shows indecisiveness and lack of belief from Collins.

Another National MP says she’s confused about what Collins stands for.

“There’s no way the party will go into 2023 with Collins as leader,” the MP said.

Remember, National’s caucus meetings are supposed to be top secret and impenetrable, but once against the caucus is leaking like a sieve.

Judith did not take it well.

https://twitter.com/nealejones/status/1376443892212457472

So there is nothing to worry about because some particular of what Tova said may not have been correct, not that multiple MPs were leaking to the media information from a Caucus meeting that may not have been correct.

The vultures are circling and Luxon is clearly putting his hand up.  Bridges has not given up.  Bishop clearly fancies his chances.  Even Chris Penk thinks he could give it a go.

But the caucus is clearly that fragmented Collins may survive.

At least for now.

42 comments on “National’s leadership problem ”

  1. Heather Tanguay 1

    How sad for Judith, all these nasty male sharks circling around. She is doing such à good job, best to leave her where she is.

  2. AB 2

    "I believe in tackling inequality and working to find that balance between encouraging and rewarding hard work and innovation, while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net."

    English translation:

    • It's bad when inequality becomes too extreme or too visible
    • But inequality is inevitable, even good, because it is a marker of superior effort, talent etc.
    • So I'm not going to change any of the structural drivers of inequality
    • The state's job is to provide minimal life support, not to enable full participation in society

    So no change. Same message – just a better-cut suit.

    • Incognito 2.1

      It reminds me of those arm wrestler caricatures with the over-developed right arm and the left one puny and weak.

    • Ad 2.2

      I believe the children are our future

      Teach them well and let them lead the way

      Show them all the beauty they posses inside

      (Sigh) Whitney for PM

    • Anne 2.3

      I believe in tackling inequality and working to find that balance between encouraging and rewarding hard work and innovation, while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net.

      I well remember the words of Roger Douglas at an inaugural ACT meeting in 1995 that I attended. It went something like this:

      I believe in tackling inequality and working to find that balance between encouraging and rewarding hard work and innovation, while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net.

      Beware those who come in sheep’s clothing bearing gifts.

    • KJT 2.4

      Whenever someone says they support "equality of opportunity" ask them if their children attend the nearest State school.

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    Remember this when Judith said things she later walked away from. This was 2018

    "Once things start getting under 35 per cent people start saying 'can we win?' And I know I am putting a mark up there which at some stage in the future, if I am successful this time, that people will say 'well, you set that mark.

    "Yep, let me set that mark."

  4. Stephen D 4

    I can see a Bridges/Luxon ticket and a Bishop/Willis ticket forming.

    My popcorn futures are looking good.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.1

      Two 'beltway' liberals from Wellington with Bishop/Willis isnt going to work. Nor is two male christian conservatives.

      identity politics means they need urban/rural and male/female leadership.

      Willis got her job, after being a Beehive staffer, working for Muller at Fonterra.

      Collins tries to hide her background as a corporate tax lawyer in the same way English covered his real job; BA graduate working as a Treasury analyst in Wellington.

      • Stephen D 4.1.1

        And given the factions within the party, the rural urban divide, the Christians V the Lions, forming a cohesive leadership team is going to take some doing.

        • woodart 4.1.1.1

          yes, it looks like rural nat supporters are being left behind. thanks for your support, but bags of cash from suit wearers are worth three times as much,etc,etc.. maybe, in the spirit of reconcialation, a bridges, pugh ticket could be the go. a big city shifty suit wearer and a phucking useless rural stherner(his words ,not mine). all bases covered. mutual dislike,a nat tradition.

  5. greywarshark 5

    Looking at the image – perhaps it is an important point that Chris Luxon has bigger teeth than Judith Collins; 'All the better to bite you my dear' said the Big Bad Wolf, wolfishly.

  6. Adrian 6

    Really, does anyone think that Luxton has the "look " that appeals to anyone other than the managerial class? . They have already tried one, or more to the point, he tried himself , and look how well that turned out.

    • AB 6.1

      Yes – interesting point. Did Muller poison the well for Luxon? Was Muller just bad at a thing that can be done effectively – or is that thing itself now old hat, the political equivalent of an Alison Holst recipe?

      • Stuart Munro 6.1.1

        The latter I think – but though celery in casseroles is a creeping horror akin to The League of Bald-headed Men, Alison's muffins are still respectable.

    • Phil 6.2

      does anyone think that Luxton has the "look " that appeals to anyone other than the managerial class?

      Our entire history of PM's is a bunch of dour managerial looking old men, with an occasional turn to a woman or someone with a bit of pep (but never both, that would be far too libertine for our sensibilities). Nobody in this country really gives a fuck what our PM looks like.

    • mac1 6.3

      I just don't get the whole shaven head thing. To me it's a vanity display which is not a good look for a politician – either don't like being bald and/or going grey. Dyeing hair doesn't always work for ageing men as the discrepancy between hair colour and facial ageing can be too great.

      • Anne 6.3.1

        "To me it's a vanity display…"

        Think so. He's going bald so he's gone for the shaven head look.

        They must have to shave their heads at least once a week. How come you never see bits of sticking plaster on their scalp?

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    It's interesting that fluoridation should have garnered support among such a conservative group. Or perhaps the Gnats have finally learned: Don't clash with Dr Ash. Should have been Judith making that call though – bad reflexes at work there.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 7.1

      The Bill was Nationals left over from 2016 or so. It might be all the speeches made in favour back then would make them look like hypocrites now when they favoured it anyway. Plus they would just be point scoring in trying to make it a 'government compulsion' thing when they were really doing a flip flop

  8. Chris T 8

    While it is funny to watch the desperate calls for there to be a leadership collapse in the opposition, no one is seriously going to want to take the job with Covid going on and Ardern's free daily party political broadcast every day she wants it.

    That and she has already hinted she is timing "The wedding day" perfectly for when that dies down as the worlds biggest "I have saved you all citizens!" t-shirt to wear for any leader who wasn't too thick to block their borders, just following basic medical advice.

    It is the biggest poison chalice job since Labour coming up to the 2017 election.

    I can't see the Nats having as much blind luck as Labour did when they threw Ardern in there in desperation because no one else wanted the job.

    • Anne 8.1

      I can't see the Nats having as much blind luck as Labour did when they threw Ardern in there in desperation because no one else wanted the job.

      You have re-written history there Chris T.

      It is on multiple records that Andrew Little mulled over the bad polls with nary a word to anyone and came to the conclusion Jacinda Ardern would be able to garner the votes in a way he couldn't. So he stepped down in favour of her and their caucus (to whom it came as much of a surprise as everyone else) approved of the change.

      https://www.newsroom.co.nz/jacinda-ardern-new-labour-leader

    • McFlock 8.2

      National isn't in the doldrums because Labour saved lives.

      National is in the doldrums because not many people think the nats, in the same position, would have saved lives.

    • Muttonbird 8.3

      It's not 'blind luck'. JA is a once in a lifetime leader, and proof of that is she is celebrated both here (first outright majority under MMP), and abroad (her image projected on the Burj Khalifa).

      The Nats won't have the 'blind luck' because you make your own luck, and by definition they can't attract or manufacture anyone like Jacinda Ardern.

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    Rather “Key-reepy” photo at top.
    Fortunately perhaps, Luxo’ has no pony for Judith to pull…

    Seriously though…Mr Luxon is a timely reminder of why we have a longstanding and varied separation of Church and State in this country.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1

      This his exact words

      I believe no religion should dictate to the state and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others."

      Weasel words ? As religious leaders all the time traipse up to parliament to tell them what to do, or even from the pulpit.

      The more interesting bit is a politicians beliefs and 'forcing' on others. Does he really only mean 'the father, son and holy spirit ' type of beliefs. Which of course they couldnt do , make people change their faith or lack of one.

      As for various religious based decisions , cant imagine him not wanting to abolish abortion say.

      And when people looked in what the Upper Room congregation was hearing at their sermons, the online presence was wiped pretty quickly and even Wayback has been cleansed

      https://thestandard.org.nz/nationals-fundamentals/

      For Luxton to make rapid progess withing the party he will have to use his business skills to become a fund raiser extrodinaire ( the main thing they all believe in and what pushed Bridges and Collins to the top.

      Wealthy christians arent going to receptive to wishy washy 'no changing of current laws' in return for their big payouts. Remember the Taxpayers Union pursuit of Collin Craig was mostly about stopping the donation flood he was getting from rich Christians.

  10. Chris 10

    Collins has a habit of taking selfies with her opponents, posting them on the net pretending they're her mates in the belief people don't see what she's doing.

  11. Muttonbird 11

    Four leaders in one year. They have until May 22 to achieve it!

    • National's "problem" is one all parties face. The demographic voting population has altered.
    • The so so called 'Boomers" (a media smear) have the luxury of retirement and reflection. Their attitudes, opinions, and voting patterns can change.
    • OBTW some of them die.

    • My interpretation is .any one born after 1945 / 46 (a boomer and not a large australian marsupial.necessarily.
    • douglas ,prebble, moore, sacrificed nz to the fresh water friedman primary school free market policies.
    • National's problem is everyone's problem.
    • Covid and climate change alters everything.
    • OBTW has anyone noticed our racial, cultural mix has changed considerably in the past/last 50 years?
    • What the voting public prefer happens at election time.
    • The under 40 year old vote matters.
    • The youngsters are well informed.
    • Crusher is not a good vibe.
    • Selling arms via air nz is not a "good look:" , a la bill english (a treasury stooge).
    • Sorry this is getting boring.
    • National's "problem" is one all parties face. The demographic voting population has altered.
    • The so so called 'Boomers" (a media smear) have the luxury of retirement and reflection. Their attitudes, opinions, and voting patterns can change.
    • My interpretation is .any one born after 1945 / 46 (a boomer and not a large australian marsupial.necessarily.
    • douglas ,prebble, moore, sacrificed nz to the fresh water friedman primary school free market policies.
    • National's problem is everyone's problem.
    • Covid and climate change alters everything.
    • OBTW has anyone noticed our racial, cultural mix has changed considerably in the past/last 50 years?
    • What the voting public prefer happens at election time.
    • The under 40 year old vote matters.
    • The youngsters are well informed.
    • Crusher is not a good vibe.
    • Selling arms via air nz is not a "good look:" , a la bill english (a treasury stooge).
    • Sorry this is getting boring.
  12. Jenny how to get there 15

    National haven't got a leadership problem, they've got a policy problem.

    They haven't got any.

    And changing leaders will not improve that.

    Scrub that, National do have one major policy – open the borders, open the borders, open the borders.

    This has been National's policy from the first lockdown till now.

    The trouble is, apart from the tourist industry leaders and the importers of bonded migrant labour it has proved highly unpopular.

    • tc 15.1

      National default policy is wealth transfer from public to private.

      Socialise losses, privatise profit. Ask coleman/ryall, not that you'll get a truthful response, over what they did to our health system.
      With electricity was more obvious with shonky fronting the selloff.

  13. Policy Parrot 16

    Luxon isn't the Key analogue. He is the Brash analogue – a radical wrapped up in a nice presentable package. The difference is that Brash was an economic conservative whereas Luxon is a social conservative.

    If he becomes leader, he might rebuild some of National's support but he won't be PM. That is more likely to go to Luxon's successor.

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