Chris Trotter argues Todd Muller's backers have rejected the radical conservatism of the evangelical Christian Right and reaffirmed the moderate conservative values out of which their National Party was born

Chris Trotter argues Todd Muller's backers have rejected the radical conservatism of the evangelical Christian Right and reaffirmed the moderate conservative values out of which their National Party was born
Nikki Kaye, Todd Muller. Pool image from Getty.

By Chris Trotter*

A grim measure of the challenge Todd Muller faces in rebuilding National is Bob Clarkson’s comment to RNZ’s Morning Report. With the Opposition leadership ballot only hours away, the former National Party MP for Tauranga quite unselfconsciously described Jacinda Ardern as “leader of the communists”. So much of what is wrong with National, and a large part of its electoral base, is summed-up in Clarkson’s absurd characterisation. That Muller emerged victorious over Simon Bridges last Friday, is unquestionably a hopeful sign for moderate conservatism in New Zealand. Even so, the task confronting the new Leader of the Opposition is a daunting one.

Crucial to Muller’s electoral success will be the extent to which he is able to persuade National supporters that the September election is not a Manichean struggle between darkness and light, but a rational political choice between clearly divergent approaches to economic management and social reform. Given that the conventional wisdom in contemporary election campaigning valorises polarisation and demonisation, making the case for such rhetorical de-escalation and de-pressurisation will not be easy. Certainly, it would require a dramatic change in National’s current campaign strategy – and Campaign Chair.

The re-introduction of sweet reason and civility to right-wing discourse is, however, critical to National regaining its competitiveness vis-à-vis the Ardern-led Government. It was Simon Bridges’ singular failure to grasp this essential feature of the post-Lockdown political environment that necessitated his removal. Muller’s problem is that his predecessor is very far from being the only figure on the Right who failed to notice how profoundly the Prime Minister had changed the rules of the game. In both the National Party Caucus and across the rest of the New Zealand political class there remains a solid core of right-wingers who look at Jacinda Ardern and see only “Princess Stalin”.

It is difficult to pinpoint the cause of this delusion. Partly, it is exactly what the feminists proclaim it to be: misogyny. To a worryingly large number of men, the experience of living under a highly-effective woman leader is extremely disconcerting. These guys may understand that openly expressing their disdain for women in charge is unlikely to be career-enhancing, but that doesn’t silence their inner excoriation of women wielding power. Moreover, the Internet offers these men multiple opportunities to voice publicly – albeit anonymously – their suppressed rage. This does nothing to lower the temperature in the political kitchen.

The parallels between the reaction of some New Zealand men to Jacinda Ardern, and that of some American whites to Barack Obama, are too strong to ignore. Both electoral outcomes appear to have induced a kind of political vertigo: as if the world had been knocked off its axis and True North lost. That women and blacks should be in control was seen as a violation of the natural order. Clearly, evil forces were at work in the body politic. In the United States these feelings gave birth to the Tea Party movement and Trump. In New Zealand they reinforced the claim that the Ardern-led Government was electorally illegitimate: something foisted on the New Zealand people by Winston Peters and who knows what dark influences behind the scenes.

Reinforcing these visceral responses here, in the United States, and across the world, has been the evangelical Christian Right. The power of the Christian Right in the United States is well understood, but in New Zealand’s much more secular society its activities receive scant media attention. Most New Zealanders would be unaware of the slow but steady build-up of radically conservative Christian MPs in the National Party Caucus. Obviously – given Muller’s victory over Bridges – not to the point of dominating the party but, as anyone who has studied the history of the extreme Left knows, a tightly organised and ideologically-driven minority can exert a degree of organisational influence out of all proportion to its numbers.

In his widely read blog post, “The Battle For The Nation’s Soul”, former Green staffer turned PR maven David Cormack puts it like this:

“There is a large bloc in National of Christians with some pretty extreme views. They’re not traditional Christian National Party folk, but more fire and brimstone. Muller is a traditional National Party Christian, he voted No on the abortion bill’s second and third reading, he voted No on all three readings of the euthanasia bill. But he is considered not right wing enough by the large Christian bloc.”

According to Cormack:

“All of the highly conservative Christian MPs want to fight their very own culture wars here in NZ; think GOP level. Staunchly pro-Israel, really strongly anti-abortion, anti-women and gay rights. They want to fight the ‘Marxism’ that they believe has infested our schools, universities and even Labour (!)”

The alarm such extremism was bound to excite in a broad Centre-Right party like National is readily imagined. To the average voter, Bridges’ tone deafness to the public’s mood vis-à-vis the Covid-19 Crisis and Ardern’s handling of it was merely perplexing. To the National Party’s moderate conservatives, however, his statements would have had an altogether more ominous ring to them. They would have recalled Amy Adam’s speech during the Third Reading debate of the Abortion Legislation Bill on 18 March, in which she warned:

“I think those who are voting against this legislation—their views are their own, but I think they are out of step with New Zealand. I think this House is in grave danger of becoming far more socially conservative than New Zealand, and we do a disservice to New Zealand when we get out of step with the views of New Zealand.”

For that second-to-last reference to New Zealand it would be entirely excusable to substitute “The New Zealand National Party”.

Some have criticised the role played by opinion polls in the demise of Bridges and his deputy. Such criticism is unjustified. Those within the inner circles of the National Party undoubtedly felt uneasy about the no-holds-barred GOP-style tactics on display. Their intuition would have told them that such ideologically-driven and uncompromising tactics were most unlikely to be well-received by voters who had just spent weeks listening to their Prime Minister and Director-General of Health tell them to be “kind”. Muller and his backers needed to know whether their intuition enjoyed empirical backing. The leaked UMR poll, closely followed by the Newshub-Reid Research and the One News-Colmar Brunton polls, gave them all the evidence they needed.

Muller and his team deserve the hearty congratulations of the New Zealand electorate. The risk was real, and growing, that the National Party was heading down the self-same political trail blazed by the Republican Party in the United States. The journey begins with the purging of every party member deemed insufficiently committed to the holy mission of national redemption. As the trail descends deeper and more steeply into the darkness, that holy mission is held up as a sanctified end – for the achievement of which any and all means are justified. The trail ends in the monstrous moral vacuum that is Trumpist populism.

Muller and all those who voted for him at last Friday’s emergency caucus meeting have done what the Republican Party refused to do. They have rejected the radical conservatism of the evangelical Christian Right and reaffirmed the moderate conservative values out of which their National Party was born. Muller’s mission now is to uphold that notion of society which National has made its own for more than 80 years: a society which modifies and adapts its core institutions to accommodate the slowly evolving beliefs and aspirations of the individuals and families, enterprises and communities, that make it up.

Elections in such societies are not apocalyptic encounters between the Children of Darkness and the Children of Light. Rather, they are opportunities for the voters to render a judgement on which political party’s policies are the most likely to succeed, and which are more likely to fail.


*Chris Trotter has been writing and commenting professionally about New Zealand politics for more than 30 years. His work may be found at http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com. He writes a fortnightly column for interest.co.nz.

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107 Comments

30
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Nice piece of fantasy.
I don't like Jacinda because all I see is bullshit and cheap words. Labour is well short on talent and a party of big government and control.
Btw, National would be on thin ground to point fingers. Its just a game of who does it best.

Covid has clearly identified the war on science. Trash talking a virus should be an obvious mistake, but that is exactly what many are inclined towards. Despite trainloads of data from around the world , many cant understand the threat until its on their doorstep. The poor folk need protecting from themselves.
Despite being a left leaner, I could see myself supporting any govt who wants to restrain the worst of the far right.

"parallels between the reaction of some New Zealand men to Jacinda Ardern, and that of some American whites to Barack Obama"

All I can say is what a load of rubbish "Chris Trotter" on this point !

Most sane people base there opinion on a politicians policy both in what one says and what one actually does and its not down to there sex or colour.

"Most *sane* people" - (emphasis by me)
That's the tricky part.

That's the problem. You only have to go on the TradeMe forums or Facebook to see how much discourse and critical thinking has deteriorated. "Communist!" and "Fascist!" are both heavily used when discussing Ardern. It does look like the old issue of following the USA seven years behind, aided perhaps by the likes of Lusk, Slater, Collins et al in using Tea Party style communications to enhance tribalism while undermining policy-based discussion. Add to that the deceptive attack advertising that gets pulled up for being misleading.

Keyboard warriors....

Hi Rick.
I don’t think discourse or thinking has deteriorated, but forums such as Facebook, TM, even this website have given a platform to anyone who wants to spout bigotry, spread rumors, or just be plain stupid. Wouldn’t have made it past the news editor back in the day. But hey, that’s free speech. Pandora’s Box.

Trademe got rid of their "Opinion and Politics" board a couple of months ago, and those that used to post there have moved to other forums, some of them new.

Evangelical Christian rejected? Supposedly there is one such contender waiting in the wings. To some it seems that identity is the real messiah for the National Party? Hope not. Mr Trotter has explained very well why it is desirable for conservatism in NZ politics. Traditionally we have always had one party conservative on the left and the other on the right. No room for extremes here and you have to question if that applies to MMP too as it has done nothing but disrupt that tried and understood relationship. Given the brief life span of minor parties, and the latest polls, the NZ electorate is behaving virtually as if we are still under or want to revert to, FPP.

11
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Muller is a Catholic, conservative yes, but hardly evangelical. Christianity is the moral base of the western world, and justifiably so. It’s only when evil people twist it for their own gain that it becomes a doctrine of hate and intolerance. Radix malorum est cupiditas, not spiritual belief. On an aside, Chloe Swarbrick upped Muller’s profile with her ‘OK, Boomer’ snipe. But at a mere 52, he’s a few years off qualifying for that illustrious accolade. He’s actually Gen X, or is it genuflex?
Get it right, Chloe. If you can’t do sums, you shouldn’t have a portfolio.

17
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I just assumed he was much older than 51. Certainly his attitude and thinking does fit the boomer model to my mind. I guess it's as much a state of mind. I'm 54 and there's no way I'm a boomer.
From what I've seen written of him so far I'd forgo my usual small party vote for something different to vote labour just to keep him and national out.

We're on the same page here redcows. I was a swinging voter until national lost the plot under John Key-look-at-me. If English had stuck around maybe I'd think differently, but this bunch of wannabes shows how much National is shadowing the Republicans descent into something that has no moral compass.

17
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"Christianity is the moral base of the western world, and justifiably so."

Maybe back in the Dark Ages - thank Christ for the Renaissance, Humanism and the Enlightenment

"It’s only when evil people twist it for their own gain that it becomes a doctrine of hate and intolerance."

Like the Vatican

Yes. Exactly.

And yet Newton, Gallileo and Kepler, who were all Christians, started the scientific revolution.

Back in the day it was pretty much compulsory to be christian

Sir Isaac Newton,
"Atheism is so senseless. When I look at the solar system, I see the earth at the right distance from the sun to receive the proper amounts of heat and light. This did not happen by chance."

Johannes Kepler,
"Science is the process of thinking God's thoughts after Him."

Galileo Galilei,
"Mathematics is the language in which God wrote the universe."

Your claim is an inaccurate and empty speculation.

Our present laws, particularly those which concern property rights, are directly descended from canon ( Catholic Church) law.

"If you can’t do sums, you shouldn’t have a portfolio"
If that's the test then Muller fails every time he says the number of days until the next election. Notably corrected on this on RNZ earlier this morning, but that's not the first time

Religion the base of morals... not at all. Morals are your views NOT what is imposed by a church that says one thing and dose something completely different.

If you can't not be a bigot, you shouldn't have a portfolio.

Boomer is a state of mind

He's got big boomer energy.

"Christianity is the moral base of the western world"...
1. Its only been around for about 2-3K years
2. Modern Humans are at least 100K years old
3. That means for 97K years various tribal codes have been in play
4. The Sumerian code and ANE code of Hammurabi pre-dates the O.testamnet.
5. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindu, sikhs etc etc etc etc have their own codes
6. Its utter hubris to say that Christianity is the only code, in the modern world.

'morality' and 'ethics' and much religious edict derive from game theory and economic pressures of trying to out-compete other tribes, towns, cities, states or cultures, with difficulties created by cooperative warfare, extremely long childhoods, and inability to control fertility. Last 50 years of technology development (contraceptives, WMD, nuclear weapons, education extending into 20's) have overturned many evolutionary social optimisations so that evolved systems of past (eg religion that convinces individuals to do things harmful to themselves to aid society) no longer make sense.

Western world, I said. Who knows where and when spiritual belief began. But the culture and laws of the west are intertwined with Christianity, like it or not. Just remember that it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven. Hope someone told the Pope, and the head of the Church of England, oh, and the property spruikers on this website.
I’m not a god botherer, by the way.

We need to be beyond religious duck-shoving of responsibility, in all things (journalism included).

The problem is that we are planet-forcing (Catton called us 'Homo Colossus', 40 years ago) and have to take responsibility if we are to survive. Those who think there is an all-powerful being calling the moves, are an impediment. Those who had six kids, should be disqualified from Parliament (via a well informed public, via a wide-viewing media).

Yet I sense there will be a return to religion, as globalism retreats and as times get (inevitably) tougher.

With respect, PDK, I think there is a huge difference between believing in a spiritual dimension, and slavishly following a dogma - no offense intended. My brief readings about quantum theory have left me convinced more than ever that rationalists are simple minded creatures. We know SFA.

I think it is string theory that suggests there are multiple other dimensions of reality.

Yes, quantum certainly knocks humancentricism, Kant's 'sensible concepts' (aka most of what Western science supposes objective knowledge to be founded on) and Newton's mechanistic understanding on the world. Not to mention how it might inform indeterminancy and potentiality.. that's quite a big can of noke you're opening there..

15
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Great to see content like this on this site. Far more thought provoking than the political 'commentary' served up through other MSM like stuff and NZ herald.

But it's more of the same liberal "group-think". I mean, "To a worryingly large number of men, the experience of living under a highly-effective woman leader is extremely disconcerting" is just the laziest neo-liberal rubbish. New Zealand voted in Shipley and Clarke and has shown that it's male population are more than capable of voting in a female leader if she's the strongest candidate. The people I know who have the strongest negative opinion of Ardern are all female.

No they didn’t exactly vote in Shipley, but know what you mean. Both Ms Shipley & Ms Clark were accepted by the electorate at large, as being the Prime Minister, quite comfortably. Likewise Ms Ardern. It is a good and proper aspect of our society.

Clark also provoked her fair share of vitriol at the time. Including all the attacking of her relationship with Peter Davis.

18
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“Most New Zealanders would be unaware of the slow but steady build-up of radically conservative Christian MPs in the National Party Caucus”

Yep . Riddled . Bolger,English, Key, Bridges . Muller adds to the Dinosaur collection . Shifting deck chairs on the Titanic

Hi Mr Ed. Yes, this is the pick of the Kiwi news sites. Original, quality content, good writers and a Great bunch of commenters. Shame there’s not more about the Kardashians though.

Praise the Lord

10
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Are the Exclusive Brethren active behind the scenes ?
Muller has to show that he has broken away from many traditional National views and policies and practices (The Chinese connection, etc) to sow some credibility among the voters. Hope Nikki reins in the Conservative Christian impulses.
The electorate has changed after Covid, the business lobby cannot have the same influence as it had before.
The people expect a balanced supportive government with empathy.

18
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Your characterization of US politics is offensive and incredibly ignorant.

Despite being very conservative I will never vote National while they remain the CCP party.

Offensive or accurate?

Given the article used zero verifiable facts it is impossible to say.

I think of myself as a swing voter - but National's (and for that matter Labour's) embrace of the CCP is preventing me from voting for anyone other than NZ First or ACT. That makes me sad because I don't want to vote for those parties.

I'm in the same boat.

Chris Trotter is a good read two out of three. This is the one in three where he has lost the plot.
Of course there are always a few trogs about. But the gender of the PM - any PM - is not an issue for New Zealanders.

Trotter is like much of Labour; acknowledging future problems but duck-shoving them, while trying for a bit more equality (no bad thing. in a society).

Thus he becomes less relevant with time, only getting oxygen via nobody being in the needed space (or being given it, in proportional weight).

KH

Agreed.
Gender is non-issue for me as choice of PM.We have had females as PM's before & now. No reason to exclude them for future.
I would de-personalise the PM & look at the platform of the party she stands on. Any party that espouses, either covertly or overtly, a "NZ is FOR SALE" is out for me.

Thanks jaf. I could never vote Labour, but the Nats would also sell New Zealand.
Sigh. What to do?

Vote Winston Peters. A man of many flaws, but he stops the left being looney, and the right being downright nasty. Imagine this government without him? He’s kicked some seriously flawed proposals into touch.

12
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Did you read some of the comments on here from, what I would assume, middle class white males just after she was made PM, and since then. They were barely able to stop themselves calling her a naughty little girl who needs to go to her room. Imagine if she were Maori or Pacific Islander as well. Her age had a lot to do with this, Helen Clark, Shipley, Crusher - those are the women where gender is not an issue.
I dont think people wear these beliefs on their sleeves, they are deeply ingrained in our society.

Any politician who is new on the block deserves to be treated with an open mind. If they then stuff up you will know what to think of them. This is how I treated Ardern until I caught her out in a downright lie - I now believe her to be a flake who will bend the truth to suit her own ends.

I hope we are not forgetting Tariana Turia one of the finest, smartest and most respected politicians that this country has seen for many years. She rose above many of the things that shackle many of our MPs , things like ambition , self importance etc etc and she stood up not only for her people but all the people of the land drawing on a depth of wisdom and experience that is not very common in the Parliament of New Zealand. ...it was a very sad day when we lost her voice in the house. I respect Dame Tariana above all others, and oh I just remembered, she is a women, and Im a white middle class male boomer.
I note with interest that hacking down Christians of all sorts seems to be a sport here. Perhaps Chris Trotters and others could spend their time better by advising many more to actually regard the teachings of Christ. They are tough teachings but not lacking in any way. You would then be a lot slower to cast stones and wouldnt have time because you'd be out selling the bach, the second car, the boat and a few other luxuries to enable some of the millions starving in the world to have a conservative house, a meal each day, medicine for their children and a restored hope in the western world.

I think Trotter is bang-on here tbh. National's optic problems are a tendency to appear tone-deaf (apologies for the mixed metaphor) to exactly the intergenerational and gender-political shift that's been going on in NZ society without them. When you say 'not an issue to most New Zealanders' I want to agree with you - but the comments on multiple platforms indicate there is still a fairly vocal knuckle-dragging demographic that clearly don't like being led by a younger woman.

15
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Go hard on the CCP or go away Muller. No more kow towing. No more threats. Cut them off, like you would a controlling, threatening, bullying, violent partner.

On one hand he says he is Catholic, which should mean he has religious values. On the other hand he allows controlling, threatening, bullying, violent behaviour as you mentioned.
This Nation Party just went from useless to hypocritical.

On one hand he says he is Catholic, which should mean he has religious values.

More often in history it's just seemed to suggest two sets of values.

16
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'To a worryingly large number of men, the experience of living under a highly-effective woman leader is extremely disconcerting.'

Margaret Thatcher was highly effective. Angela Merkel is highly effective.

Jacinda Ardern, on the other hand, is not.

She is good at projecting, but she is actually a poor manger of an untalented and ill-disciplined team. That is why her record of delivery is bad.

11
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JA has demonstrated one unbelievably amazing talent - she is unparalleled in her skill at dealing with non-wartime crises. But realistically, these skills are reasonably one-dimensional and involve being nice and having empathy. When it comes to running a country, she falls short though mainly because she doesn't have talented people to work with her.

Quote: In both the National Party Caucus and across the rest of the New Zealand political class there remains a solid core of right-wingers who look at Jacinda Ardern and see only “Princess Stalin”.

I did a Google search. The only NZ reference to that moniker is this article. Trotter making things up.

Princess Stalin is a good epithet for Ardern.

She has become increasingly arrogant ad authoritarian (e.g. gagging her ministers and telling them not to talk to the media) and even leftie journalist now describe her as politically ruthless.

I'm picking anyone at the top of a political party has to be ruthless. Muller will need to be too. Democracy is just a thin veneer. HC was also well known for her ruthlessness. Let's face it the party has to all be singing the same tune and they're all big egos. So someone not in tune will need to be tuned up real quick, or chopped, and it is the leader who will set the tune.

Hyperbolic comments and exaggeration really. The left in any western country is mostly on the right in old money, and not even close to communism.

In fact, it's generally those on the right who are calling those trying to build a fair and decent society trying to reduce inequality marxist, communist and everything else in between, when of course it is just an attempt to redress the greed and selfishness of the last 40 years.

When did Jacinda Ardern gag the ministers?

And when is being politically ruthless a crime?

It's pretty lazy to label what passes as the left as Stalinism, communism, marxism or any ism really. What do you call those on the right who are racist, misogynistic, grasping at keeping power, funding fake news groups, funding anti science lobbies, conspiracy theorists etc mlpc? Because most of the danger in the world currently comes from nationalist groups and personalities who would rather sow division than build community - Trump, Putin, Bolsonaro, Morrison, Johnson to name a few. Who have abandoned fact and science.

Within the few weeks of the pandemic the good old market has gone out the window and it's been the business community who have been espousing the socialist viewpoint.

What you could be saying is that you resent some kind of redress of the huge imbalance towards the wealthy over the last 40 years.

Also mlpc, interested to hear your thoughts about the close ties National has courted with the CCP over the last 12 years?

Probably need to do a Lycos search

The whole article is conspicuously absent of facts.

Perhaps he just needed a good rant to get things off his chest?

13
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Two points:
1. Who cares what his religious beliefs are? They are us - remember? Or have we forgotten that already.
2. To be a male and not like Jacinda is not being a misogynist. It's not liking her policies or leadership style; it's also not liking her government which extends well beyond Jacinda herself - but as the leader, of course she is going to cop the lion's share of the criticism. I personally don't resonate with all the cheesy slogans and struggle listening when being spoken to like I'm a child. If other people enjoy that style, then happy days for them. I don't like the Govt's policies either. I support being a social democrat but there needs to be a balance - social support needs to coexist with a prosperous economy and I don't believe the Govt has this balance right in the current situation. Very few of the Govt minsters have any real world experience and that has become clear over the past few months. Muller nailed it when he said there were a few heavy lifters in charge but with 17 empty seats behind them. Jacinda and Grant know that if they put these people in front of a screen, it will be a disaster. Many of them, like Kelvin Davis et al, are inept - why the gag order on the COVID response? If it was such a success, why not allow caucus to bask in the glory?

From what I've seen, Muller is exactly what National need; someone who is kind, intelligent, and not arrogant with his views. Sure - he's a catholic. So? Is he not allowed to have his own conscience vote? His deputy probably disagrees with him on a number of issues but that's what makes him perfect - he seems to know the boundaries of morality that are defined by his belief system, and he has no desire to force those through a position of power. Unlike some.

Hear, Hear.
I don't really have a political affiliation, except removing Winston Peters. How he has not been eviscerated for his personally motivated bailout of the racing industry is beyond me. So many other industries left to hang in the wind, and fair enough we can't bail out everything.
But the racing industries creditors getting a 50 million dollar bailout (the same amount as the media) and I have not heard any critique of it, either in parliament or in the media. It's pathetic, but par for the course, there has been so little critique during this crisis.

Where religious beliefs dictate a person's stance on issues their religion is relevant as an indication of their policies. When asked if religion dictated his vote on abortion and euthanasia Mr Muller said it did not, rather it dictated his heart (which obviously then dictated his position on abortion and euthanasia). If a person's religion is homophobic, misogynistic and racist then I will take that into account when considering what their position on particular issues are.

Kotare - nobody who is catholic in belief, can be what we need heading where we're heading.

Belief - and the current belief is in 'the economy'and 'gdp' and 'growth'- is absolutely a problem for leadership, indeed should be an automatic disqualification.

Truth, fact, and nothing else, should the the guides. All else is portions of obfuscation, usually via agenda.

PDK, I completely agree that our leaders' faith (and that's what it is - faith) in growth is a problem, maybe our biggest.

I'm not religious, but I think that a religious kind of faith, offering humility and a belief in the sanctity of creation, could be a powerful alternative to the dominant worship of money and growth. Look at the current Pope, or listen to Herman Daly talk a bit about his beliefs. Religion and environmentalism are far from mutually exclusive.

https://youtu.be/_mcKCjfKrUA?t=2660
https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/07/pope-franciss-...

Science can & should help guide policy, but towards what goals? Any goals we decide on will be based on value judgements. When we say that we should preserve Earth for future generations, that comes from a belief. Science can provide the "how", but some kind of belief has to provide the "why."

Of course, none of this is to say anything about Todd Muller.

Covid has clearly identified the war on science. Trash talking a virus should be an obvious mistake, but that is exactly what many are inclined towards. Despite trainloads of data from around the world , many cant understand the threat until its on their doorstep. The poor folk need protecting from themselves.
Despite being a left leaner, I could see myself supporting any govt who wants to restrain the worst of the far right.

With Gerry Brownlee as campaign manager...?
Hmmm, I don't think he has it in him to tone down the GOP-style rhetoric. He displayed it too.

Potentially a big mistake by Muller to have Brownlee set the tone.

The clean coal man?

Did his son not get a job with someone in the industry?

Solid Energy - personified.

Muller may get the balance right in the caucus/shadow cabinet but that won't necessarily be an asset with the voters. Too many dinosaurs.

the mr potato head strategy works well for national voters but doubt if it will be an election winner.

Expecting a big bounce back to National at the election. Simon ultimately dragged down the vote at the end of the day to their lowest poll numbers I can remember. He got away with it for years with people voting for the party and not the man at the top but finally 7% support figures for him finally sank in. Its anyones race now, not that you would know here as its 80% Labour supporters but the economy is going to be ugly come September, its just a little to far out for Labour to keep everyone happy and voting for Labour because they are on a wage subsidy.

National+Act led the polls in February. Then Covid and blanket daily coverage of JA. Wars and crises always boost incumbents, and dead economies always drag them down (its the economy, stupid). Only a matter of time till Labour slump (even with enormous borrowing to stall it) and National lead again, question is will it be before or after September? I think after as USA suggests that takes 1-2 years for support to slump back to pre crisis levels

"Partly, it is exactly what the feminists proclaim it to be: misogyny. To a worryingly large number of men, the experience of living under a highly-effective woman leader is extremely disconcerting."

Yeah, I'm gonna need some evidence please.

In last 25 years we've had female PMs leading the country more than men. The era for claiming significant electoral sexism is long past.

Yes, the article is a lazy, tired piece of cliches and cheerleading.

Ask any British political followers what they thought of Margaret Thatcher. None of their opinions are about her womanliness. They are all about her political abilities and views.

But what is the ratio of women to men in parliament? We've got the highest percentage we've ever had at the moment - a whopping 38% (https://www.parliament.nz/en/get-involved/features/record-number-of-wome... ). Still not equity. But pretty good compared to women to men in NZ boardrooms at 24.1% in 2018 (https://www.aut.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/220369/womenonboardsce...)

Electoral sexism exists because it still exists in society.

You didn't present any evidence of sexism. You presented evidence that there are fewer women in boardrooms. How do you make the jump to sexism?

Tax religion, it is a bussiness.
This guy isn't going to do it as he is tied up with the church.

Pretty sure if the Catholic Church was a business it would have been out of business long ago, with its directors in jail.

Like all forms of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, Roman Catholicism has a great God, but the humans involved are just crap. Which is one of the strongest messages of Christianity. For faithful believers, it is belief in their God, not humans, that is important.

It is a collective group, not the god itself or the people that come and go it it a collection
of it's collaborative actions over time. If one or more of those parts is not legal it is a reflection on the entire group. A religion should not and must not be allowed to hide in such a manner, it is a sell out plain and simple.

The Catholic church (and others) should be held accountable for its actions.

The Catholic Church has a net worth in the realm of 10 - 15 billion dollars. They may be doing the lords work, but they should be taxed.

I've been living with a very effective woman leader for almost 40 years. Haven't I darling.

LOL ...I always have the last word John ....."Yes Dear"

If not misogyny, what else explains the PM's 'Cindy' nickname, used even by very senior Nats?

You don't think nicknames like Don-key are hilarious? Use of mocking nicknames is common.

Nope. Nicknames might be common but the point was hers is misogynistic.

I am wasting my time pointing this out, but Cindy is not a nickname, it is an abbreviation, like Jenny, or Jim, or Maggie, or Joe, or Rob, or Norm, or Ted.

While the Mr Trotter appears to applaud what he calls ‘sweet reason’, it is a pity his article itself is almost entirely devoid of it.

Instead of reasoning we get a tiresome blizzard of unsubstantiated opinions, with accusations of ‘delusion’, ‘misogyny’, ‘inner excoriation(s)’ and ‘suppressed rage’ supported by not so much as a tumbleweed of proof any such claims are true.

This article is a reminder that much political journalism today is closer to cheerleading that journalism.

The trouble with National is you never know when it will throw up a wolf in sheep's clothing a la Ruth Richardson.

Boomer is a chronological abbreviation for baby boomer. Which is a child produced by parents who had managed to get through the second world war. It is not a state of mind or any other rubbish definition.

National Party....Racist, sexist, outdated and bigotted. That last point should be highly concerning to anyone who is a minority because where there's a bible...especially when it comes to Baptist's... there's blind bigotry. Simon and Paula, for all their ethnic diversity simply presented as locally manufactured versions of Donald Trump. Aggressive and thoughtless. We all deserve better than that.

National just got worse under this new bloke. What a friggen disaster. I should be a National voter but with their values in a total wrong zone to my way of thinking there will be no way I would vote for them at present.

Well interesting comments Chris ,that I'll add to in saying I've been waiting to hear a politician speak in a way that doesn't sound like a lawyer or someone with an underlying agenda , rather someone who speaks in a way that related to real nz .
So far so good with Todd Muller so he's got my attention .
If centre National equates to what I've heard so far from Todd Muller , and it's backed up with real policy , then it's long overdue.

The last 20yrs or more imo have been devoid of real policy choices between parties , so in the last election I voted for Winston , as a handbrake to National or a moderator to Labour .

If National truly does go back to centre under Todd and presents some compelling policy then voting next time won't be a choice devoid of anything really compelling

The first two things he has come out with are.
He religious and he is pro CCP. Not the real deal NZ what so ever.
He has lost me from the get go. His policy will be conservative and sucking up to the CCP.

There will be no compelling policy. Muller is a wet - so if you think we will get an overhaul of WFF, RMA ACC etc - to improve NZ you are dreaming.

Unfortunately as usual with left wing commentators they create a label such as Princess Stalin so then anyone who mentions the similarities between the socialist heroes of Hitler Stalin and Ardern can be dismissed. Also the myth that the US ended up with Trump because Obama and Clinton were black and female is laughable - they ended up with Trump because those two were incompetent and corrupt.

He was the lesser of the two evils and the Dems can't get over it and publicly failed to oust him despite repeated attempts. They are in disarray, a non functioning unit.

The reason they ended up with Trump was because they saw someone who appeared to be not under the control of big money, Ie big corporations. I think it was Noam Chomsky who pointed out that near 90% of legislation in the past few decades has been to the benefit of big business in the US. His slogans pertaining to give people jobs again and make America great again struck a note with the voters. I have travelled to the USA many times in the past 20 years and speak to people everywhere. In the last few years they had seemed very discouraged. I gues with Trump they saw a man who would have his own way come whatever, some people call it arrogance. A man like this does bow easily to the lobby. The other thing he had on his side was money, his own money! He did not need the sponsorship of big business and didnt want it. He therefore owed them nothing.
Trump says some crazy stuff, there is no doubt about that! Notice what comes out of the media, they are absolutely intent on tearing him down, and for what reason, up till now the USA has been doing economically well under his presidency. Whatever the reason it has been doing well. They want him out because he is out of control, out of control of big money that is. Are you labeling me as a Tea Party type person? My leanings have always been left and Socialistic, I just happen to agree with the Apostle Paul "Love of money (not money ...love of it!) is the root of all evil"

...so then anyone who mentions the similarities between the socialist heroes of Hitler Stalin and Ardern can be dismissed.

What rubbish is this? Someone's been reading too much Prager U.

You have proved the point