The policy wonk, the ambitious change-maker, or the no-bullshit bullshitter – the contenders for National Party Prime Minister set out their stalls yesterday with John Campbell. Just like the Kaikoura quake, their pitches exposed some complex fault-lines. It’ll be a long week in politics.
Bill English pitched himself as the complex problem-solver, the most experienced and the continuity candidate. It might be called the the Hillary Clinton approach. It didn’t work for her as she missed the underlying feelings in the rust belt.
Jonathan Coleman was the man for change. He wanted to talk about those who were coming into his office, and the need for more spending on mental health. He was conscious of the underlying issues in the electorate, but mental health would have to be the biggest failure in his tenure as the Minister.
Judith Collins posed herself as the tough decision-maker, and the one who could work with Winston Peters. They may be close, but he may also see her as more Jenny Shipley than Jim Bolger. She’s certainly David Garrett’s favourite.
Hanging over it all was the sense that there are underlying shifts in New Zealanders’ perception of their government, similar to those appearing all around the world. I think that is the main reason why Key has decided to quit while he’s still ahead. The one thing that was certain about him was that he wasn’t going to go out as a loser. He sniffs the wind constantly, and as soon as he saw a shift coming he was off.
On the other side of the House, Labour has just come off a stunning win in Mt Roskill. A great candidate, a very solid and personal ground game, and a positive message clearly focussed on the key issues for voters mean that Labour has finally got its act together under Andrew Little.
Luck is essential for political success, but you can also make your own