A lot has been written in the aftermath of the election. I want to quickly note two excellent pieces that you might have missed in the rush. The first is by Nick Hager at Pundit:
I’ve just been internalising a really complicated situation in my head
Here’s the bullet-point version, to begin:
- National won about the same number of votes it did three years ago (it got a higher percentage of the total vote owing to falling voter turnout)
- National has an almost unmanageably thin majority in Parliament; party insiders are not at all happy
- Winston Peters is back as a fly in the National Party’s ointment, in a large part because John Key and Steven Joyce mucked up over the Epsom tea party
- MMP is here to stay, meaning governments need to win a real majority and not just a high single party vote
- 50% of voters voted against National, despite its popular leader
- Many National votes were won because of its apparently easy-going and centrist leader, not because people necessarily support its policies
- Well over 50% of the public opposes key National Party policies such as privatisation (‘asset sales’)
- The ACT Party, National’s most important coalition partner, died on election night
- There are signs that National has passed the high point of its popularity and will now start to decline
- There are signs that National leader John Key has passed the high point of his popularity and will now start to decline.
- The coming three years will be the playing out of these things. It is going to be very different to National’s first three years in government.
That’s the summary. If you’d like the long version, read on.
Read on indeed, it’s well worth your time. The second piece of note was by Bryan Gould in The Herald:
Labour must fight smarter against Key, starting now
There are never any final battles in politics. No one should begrudge John Key his moment of triumph on Saturday but – as he will be well aware – the campaign for the next general election has already started.
A 48 per cent share of the votes cast was, on the face of it, an outstanding achievement. But we should bear in mind that fully two-thirds of New Zealanders eligible to vote did not give their support to National, either failing to register or vote, or voting for someone else.
This was not, in other words, a coronation. Not everyone loves Key. Yet we can already see the “elective dictatorship” syndrome in Key’s claim that he has a mandate for asset sales, despite the incontrovertible polling evidence that the policy is opposed even by National voters.
The election campaign was at times an unhappy experience for Key. It revealed to his supporters, among voters and in the media, a politician whom many may not have seen before. The images of an uncomfortable and defensive Key, clearly irritated at being challenged and having to answer questions he would prefer to have ignored, will remain in the memory for a long time.
Nor is it the case, as some have suggested, that Labour’s poor showing means that the next election is already a lost cause. We should not forget that, in 2002, National’s share of the vote dropped to just 22 per cent, yet three years later, under the leadership of that “strange fellow” Don Brash, National very nearly pulled off a win. …
Labour’s new leader needs to think hard about the politics of being in Opposition. If they are to do better this term than last, there has to be a carefully planned, developed and staged strategy so that, by the time the next election campaign starts, the groundwork has been properly laid. …
There are, in other words, three stages in a successful campaign. First, changing – through hard work and relentless pressure – the public perception of Key as a leader who can be trusted. Second, taking enough time, well before the election, to build support for policies that opponents can easily misrepresent. And third, launching vote-winning policies so as to generate momentum through the election campaign.
A new leader and a strategy like this could make for a very interesting election in 2014.
Once again well worth reading the original to fill in the gaps, there’s plenty in there for Labour to think about. As we go through the process of choosing a new leader, the most important question that I think the candidates can be asked is – what are your plans for Labour over the next three years? No waffle allowed, let’s hear a detailed plan.