National’s lightweight conference

Written By: - Date published: 6:30 am, July 27th, 2015 - 25 comments
Categories: national - Tags: , , ,

John Armstrong pretty much called it on Saturday:

If this weekend’s National Party conference runs true to recent form – and there is no obvious reason why this year’s gathering of the clan will depart from that script – it will be so stage-managed that any vitality or vibrancy will have been sucked out of the affair before it has even begun.

It will make one of those heavily choreographed North Korean rallies which pay homage to the unfailing vision, wisdom and superhuman feats of the latest despot to emerge from the lineage of Kim Il-sung look like an exercise in spontaneity.

And thus it came to pass. The nearest things got to challenging was when English warned of a possible Auckland housing crash. As far as I can tell the only policy announcements were some signature beneficiary bashing, and then this:

John Key announces measures to spread migrants, investments outside Auckland

In his keynote speech to the National Party’s annual conference on Sunday, Prime Minister John Key said about half the 10,000 annual intake of skilled migrants currently settled in Auckland. Currently those who get a job offer outside Auckland get 10 bonus points towards their residence application, but from November that would triple to 30 points towards the 100 they require.

Hmmm – sounds familiar. From just last year in fact:

Labour would encourage immigrants away from Auckland and into the provinces through increased incentives

The Labour Party says if elected to government it will entice immigrants away from Auckland by increasing incentives for them to accept jobs or establish businesses in regional New Zealand. … Labour says it will increase incentives through the points system for migrants to accept jobs or establish businesses in the regions. This will be adjusted as required to ensure migrants go where they are most needed.

Good of the Nats to pick up sensible policy from Labour, but that was pretty much it. Vernon Small weighs in:

Not so much ‘the elephant in the room’ as the dairy cow at National conference

OPINION: The roughly 700 delegates at this year’s National party conference looked no less prosperous and no less confident than ever. And so they should, given their continued strength in the polls.

But beneath the meticulous stage-management there were some undercurrents of unease, especially about the state of the economy. Oh, and some moments that bordered on the bizarre, leading one senior figure in the party to dub it “infotainment for the delegates”.

Ouch. So, nothing here to dispel the perception of a government that is out of ideas and deep in third-term arrogance. The most arresting image of the conference came from the protest outside:

Widow, daughter’s message for PM

Eight-year-old Skyla Frater and her mother, Deborah McMillan, had a message for Prime Minister John Key this morning outside the National Party in Auckland this morning about weakening health and safety proposals.

“We’re here to show National that we are not going to be quiet,” Deborah McMillan of Hamilton said. ” We are not going to give up. We are all going to stand together and keep fighting for change.”

H&S protest 291 crosses

25 comments on “National’s lightweight conference”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    So, nothing here to dispel the perception of a government that is out of ideas and deep in third-term arrogance.

    They have ideas – they just don’t work and now that that failure is showing through they have to cover it up hence the stage management reminiscent of of Kim Il-sung.

  2. Matthew Hooton 2

    Labour conferences tend to be much more interesting.

    • dv 2.1

      Oh you mean Labour have debate and not infotainment.

    • Galeandra 2.2

      Matthew kicks butt….in a Cleesian way.

    • tc 2.3

      They are when folks like Gower do their predictable hatchet jobs rather than observe what’s actually going on matty.

    • Michael 2.4

      Have you attended one recently? They are stage-managed in similar Stalinist fashion to the Nats’ rallies, but the Labour bosses aren’t quite as competent, so they don’t bring it off as smoothly. That seems to sum up the difference between the Coke and the Pepsi parties.

      • Anne 2.4.1

        That is wrong Micheal. I’ve been to quite a few of the conferences in recent years and while there is some stage managing (as in the leader and deputy leader speeches) and a bit of hoop-la to go with them, the conferences are pretty much run by the delegates. Workshops take up a large part of conference and it’s where the delegates have their say and believe you me they do. The media are not allowed in to those sessions so there are no holds barred.

        Unfortunately there has to be some control over the rest of conference because we only have to recall the Clayton’s coup in… 2012 was it? The media turned what was a run of the mill conference into a bizarre circus. I still shake my head in amazement at their antics like… huddled round the men’s toilet door waiting to pounce on any stray MP who happened to emerge. While the media choose to play this kind of puerile game then the hierarchy have no choice but to keep a lid on things.

        So, don’t blame Labour. Blame the right wing media who are obsessed with negatively slanting Labour’s every mortal word or action. Look at the multiple balls-ups committed by National that the media either pretend never happened or they flag them away with trumped up excuses.

    • Morrissey 2.5

      Speaking of Labour, Matthew: you must be glad to have such a supportive understudy every week on National Radio. I used to feel quite sorry for you a few years ago, when you were regularly humiliated by Laila Harré.

  3. Smilin 3

    This what you get with a govt that sees everything in terms of the almighty dollar
    The erosion of human rights, there’s no profit in protecting that, one person dies there’s someone to take their place, inhuman 19th century thinking, thats the politics that comes with our new China currency, their record on human rights, money does have morality in its value or it has no value, not worth the paper its printed on if it causes the type of actions this govt is involved in
    Capitalism, DEATH equals costs reduced on the books when you take away all the socialist provisions in the workplace fought hard for by the Unions

  4. ianmac 4

    Over many of the issues from Dirty Tricks to Dirty Cows, I am sure that the National Party do have members and MPs who are decent people. Therefore they must be deeply uneasy as they toss and turn each night, as they struggle with doubt and unease over the ethics of their leadership.

  5. Ad 5

    The real National Party conference is taking place at the Fonterra Shareholder Directors conference.

    If either Chair John Wilson or the other two seeking re-election get rolled, CE Thiering will be next, and farmers will by extension tell the Nats about their economic handling. Head on block time Key.

    How the fuck National could mismanage economic conditions that good for 6 years and still send us down the plughole beggars belief.

    • Skinny 5.1

      The Nats popularity would totally collapse if Key ever got rolled. Labour still haven’t bothered to rebuild properly. Until they do their pretty much stuffed. The public have swallowed the angry Andy narrative, he is now being made to look to be on borrowed time.

      My advice to Little is relax, smile and point and wave.

      • Michael 5.1.1

        Agreed. Labour remains unfit for office. Its caucus members appear completely uninterested in anything but the status quo. Meanwhile, the global environment (economic, political, and “environmental”) changes around NZ, rapidly. No one in our political elite wants to step up to the challenges.

      • David H 5.1.2

        Yep the Angry bit is useful. But steal a page from Key, and Smile and wave.

  6. Enough is Enough 6


    Do not dismiss the National machine so lightly, otherwise it will be the arrogance of the left that proves to be our undoing.

    Noone should be mistaken that this a very very slick political machine and we are going to have a hell of a job removing them from office.

  7. Observer (Tokoroa) 7

    To: Skinny

    Yes, Andrew Little does need to “…relax, smile and point and wave.” You are so right.

    By now he should be pushing Labour percentages up.

    It is very important, as The Greens are likely to team up with National – (both this greens leader, and the previous one wanted to get with National).

    Also, Winston Peters who has superb skills, may not wish to mix in with an unhappy Labour team. His success in Northland that astonished Key and English, demonstrates just how good he is. No need for him to be dragged down by a down at mouth Labour Party, that dropped a man as good as David Cunliffe.

    • Dialey 7.1

      Sorry, Observer, but your observations about the Greens are totally off. Neither the current leader nor the previous wanted to get with National, if for no other reason, the party wouldn’t countenance it. Secondly Green policy is decided by party members, grass roots up, not leadership down.

    • LOL the Greens have repeatedly resolved in AGM on coalition discussions that they are unwilling to support a National government. They have only resolved to work with them on policy- and the Greens’ philosophy is so pragmatic that they vote with Act from time to time on bills that genuinely deserve support. Any coalition with National has to be supported by the Green delegates at the AGM, and therefore by the party members each delegate represents, as those members instruct them how to vote.

      Coalition with National won’t happen unless they start caring about the environment and propose policies better than Labour’s, which is even less likely than the Greens’ members voting to support them into government.

      The leaders really just get a larger platform to share their views on what we should do in regards to coalition arrangements, and afterwards they sell the members’ vision, not the other way around. It works in a similar way on policy as well.

      If Winston would support Jim Bolger he might throw his votes ANYWHERE. My general rule about Winston is “never assume you know what he’ll do”, and it’s served me well. The guy blows around like a kite, the only thing you can expect of him is to be tough on immigration.

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