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If National is to make it back to power, then it will have to re-learn how to organise and inspire the public’s political imagination, says Chris Trotter

If National is to make it back to power, then it will have to re-learn how to organise and inspire the public’s political imagination, says Chris Trotter

By Chris Trotter*

There are two political worlds. The real world of politics: a constant confusion of early-morning briefings, cynical calculations, crisis-meetings, cellphone calls and those intense little huddles of the major players that photojournalists, if they’re any good, capture for posterity.

Then there’s the world of political imagination: a place where idealised leaders smite cartoon villains, and imagery fashioned out of hope, hate and every other kind of inchoate personal desire, dazzles, delights and depresses us in equal measure.

In a general election these two worlds draw ever-nearer to one another. Their inevitable collision we call “the result”.

The winner, almost always, is the group of politicians whose real world machinations produce the most persuasive flurry of images in our imaginations. The more decisive the win, the better manipulators these real world politicians (and their apparatchiks) have proven themselves to be.

That Labour would defeat the National Party had been on the pollsters’ cards for months. What surprised New Zealanders was just how comprehensively Jacinda Ardern ended up crushing the “Crusher”. They couldn’t know how thoroughly Labour’s image-generator-in-chief, “Jacinda”, had captured the electorate’s imagination; or that the progress of her takeover had been tracked with increasing sophistication and precision by her “back-room boys” for three years. The Prime Minister’s fans would only discover how extensively their image of the Prime Minister was shared when the results started coming in on the night of 17 October 2020. Turned out to be half the country.

The extent to which those same results revealed the National Party’s failure to capture the electorate’s imagination was astonishing. Barely a quarter of New Zealand voters saw Judith Collins as their heroine. In the world of political imagination, she just couldn’t get anything to stick – not least because the people in National’s back-room appeared to have run out of glue!

The contrast between 2020 and 2014 was stark. Back then National’s back-room manipulators were able to serve up the image of a superbly trained and impressively disciplined rowing team. With their aimable coxswain, John Key, calling the stroke, the rowers powered their vessel swiftly and unerringly through the water. National’s opponents were portrayed as a fractious ship of fools, all pulling in different directions. Those images had no trouble sticking!

National’s apparent inability to any longer get inside the heads of their fellow New Zealanders is a serious, perhaps fatal, political failing. No matter how politically divisive it turned out to be, there’s no disputing Don Brash’s 2005 success in tapping into Pakeha anxieties about their place in New Zealand society. Equally indisputable was John Ansell’s masterful translation of those anxieties into a series of powerful linguistic and visual binaries – the most famous being “Iwi/Kiwi”.

If studying and/or writing about politics is your bread-and-butter, you very quickly develop a notion of what is likely to resonate with the voters. Wending our way home from the pub in the run-up to the 2005 election, I remember clearly how my friends and I were brought to a shuddering halt by one of the first Ansell billboards. It was about who listens to whom in Education. In the red panel the single word was, “Teachers”; in the blue, “Parents”. We just stood and stared: mentally ticking-off all the other binaries that Brash clearly intended to exploit. “Bloody hell!” we all said. “That’s brilliant!”

That brilliance was there, too, with John Key. His whirlwind “This Is John Key” exercise introduced us to the boy raised by his widowed mum in a state house. The boy who went on to marry his high-school sweetheart and make $55 million trading currencies. We saw him visit the residents of McGeehan Close in Helen Clark’s electorate – a feet-on-the-ground reiteration of his concern about New Zealand’s growing underclass. We heard him invite Aroha to Waitangi.

Multi-millionaire he may have been, but Key had not forgotten where he came from. He knew the power of aspiration and he promised to make the National Party its champion. In the space of just a few weeks, John Key set up camp in the political imagination of Middle New Zealand. He would stay there, a welcome guest, for nine years.

So, what happened? How has National drifted so far from the Middle New Zealanders who were once its own?

A big part of the answer lies in National’s deliberate creation of a self-perpetuating oligarchy at the very summit of the party organisation. Set up in response to National’s worst ever electoral defeat in 2002, the party’s new constitutional structure was supposed to deliver to the party of business the efficiency and effectiveness of the business world. The problem, however, is that self-perpetuating oligarchies tend to be effective and efficient only when they’re new. As the years pass, the priorities of the oligarchs change. Initially, they are all about giving expertise and talent its head. In a surprisingly short period of time, however, the oligarchy’s key objective becomes, simply, the preservation of the oligarchy. It selects not for innovation and imagination, but for self-replication. The organisation becomes inward-looking and self-protective: nobody moves, nobody gets hurt.

In his book, The First 50 Years: A History of the New Zealand National Party, the political historian, Barry Gustafson, describes how, from the very moment of its foundation in 1936, National set out to be a mass party:

“[A]ttention was drawn to the fact that ‘the Labour Party, both numerically and financially, is the greatest political organisation that has ever existed in the history of the Dominion’, and that National needed to match it with an effective but more democratic mass-based party, whose members would control candidate selection and play a major role in shaping policy.”

This is the sort of real world politics that National urgently needs to become good at once again. Not only because without such living democratic structures, understanding how to shape and organise the raw desires, hopes and dreams in voters’ heads will become increasingly difficult; but also because such structures will make the identification and recruitment of the replacement political talent National so urgently needs a lot easier and much more reliable.

Alternatively, National may opt to simply sit back and wait for another John Key to fall into its lap – along with another Steven Joyce to put organisational flesh on its new leader’s intuitive bones. But, that could take a while. In the meantime, Jacinda Ardern, like John Key before her, will remain a welcome guest in the political imagination of Middle New Zealand, and her real world back-room operators will go on holding the morning briefings and making the cynical calculations needed to keep her there.


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

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92 Comments

Trotter is right, National needs to be heading us somewhere. And we need to see what that is before we vote for them.
They could speak the narrative of "New Zealanders" and lead the way out of the devisive tangle that has arisen.
Trotter says New Zealanders are "anxious" about our place. Perhaps that's true for some, but not me.
The path forward is to be proud of our country and our place without apology.
A party who led that out could do well.

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Alternatively they could do very little and let Cindy and Robberson continue a long list of stuff ups like kiwibuild, homeless and child poverty
When each policy fails Cindy will announce a "reset". Meaning we failed and we wont talk about that policy after today.
Good thing Cindy made very little promises this election as I think she knows her team of Muppets wont be able to deliver on much.
So sit tight, stay home and be kind. Wait 3 years and views could be very different in the Socialist Republic of NZ.

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Hi OC, I sort of agree with the general gist of what you say but... the Labour Party's delivery failure was pretty well known prior to the election but had obviously little bearing. I think Labour will bumble from non-delivery to non-delivery for the next 3 years. It was fairly obvious people voted (generally) for Ardern not her policies. Whilst we have a majority of voters making decisions on personality, NZ will continue to be a posterchild for mediocrity and underperformance. Ardern will probably move on after '23 (which on current form by the centre right bloc - she'll win), so I think it's more likely 6 years to wait. National got "smoked" because they deserved it. Disorganised, directionless and undisciplined.

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Hello Hook. Yes could be 6 years or 3....much will depend on unemployment.
I think we will be facing a wave of unemployment next year and it may hang around for quite sometime.
Perhaps the solution is Robberson's Unemployment Insurance scheme. Which I am totally against. The gist of it is the current welfare benefits are not good enough for the middle class NZers with commitments and lifestyle to maintain being mortgage payments on over priced houses and repayments on cars and iphone 12s and 8k TVS.

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Yeah, don't know how Robertson's scheme would be paid for - could only be a "premium" paid by wage and salary earners, i.e another tax (oops - no new taxes, so it'll be a premium) but what happens to the self employed SME owners whose business collapses? I agree, it'll be murkey how it's applied and no doubt inequitable - I don't like the idea either

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Yeah I agree with the sit tight idea.
There's every chance that the economy will struggle to get any momentum in the next 3 years.
I do think the Nats need fresh blood at the top though, maybe in 1.5 year's time. I know little about him, but Luxon seems a reasonable option.

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Luxton seems to me to be just more of the same, and he's another of the National religious set.

I haven't seen a lot of him but unless he's an amazing speaker with lots of charisma, I'd say no chance.

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Labour did well from its reputation for failure to deliver. The last thing most of us want is drastic change and we are fairly confident our new govt will make appropriate feel noises but not actually change much. That has both good and bad aspects because there really is need for some serious change but the more serious it is the less likely a new policy will be popular so the less likely to be implemented.

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While I fully agree with this "Alternatively they could do very little and let Cindy and Robberson continue a long list of stuff ups like kiwibuild, homeless and child poverty"

Why do we actually want National back in? So they can do the same?

Neither major party has done squat for anyone the last 30odd years. Why would we expect them to do anything different now?

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Who said it has to be just National. Act is going from strength to strength.
Also I want fiscal conservatism. Not borrowing and more borrowing and hiring of more and more public servants getting paid far too much for zero results.
Also the country will get sick of the current lot within the next two election cycles much like it got sick of Allen Clarke. That's they way it is.

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Love it ;-0

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There is new thinking gathering pace in the world, and that is around people finally understanding that you cannot have infinite growth in a finite world.
We don't have any political parties really addressing this, although James Shaw has dipped his toes in the water, by acknowledging it. I think they know where the groundswell of public sentiment is going to come from next.
National are NEVER going to countenance the notion that we cannot grow forever, and furthermore, even less likely for the idea of de-growth.
National have nothing to offer with their last century thinking for a this century world.

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Good comment Pocket Aces. I have a right wing economic view - sort of. And also recognise humans would benefit with a smaller ecological footprint. And see population as a core issue.
Hard to find a party in that space.

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There seems to be some confusion about why people are steadily beginning to question just what capitalism is all about, and think it is about a desire to destroy a person's ability to seek their own path in life, that many assume capitalism represents. I don't think it does represent that at all. The clue to capitalism is in it's very name, "capital" and the accumulation of same, and the need for constant growth for this to continue. Once you accept that this sort of accumulation cannot continue as it is this that requires non-stop growth in order to continue, you can begin to see the argument is not just capitalism v socialism, both the interests of the individual and the interests of wider society have parts to play in a well functioning society.
It is also the rise of giant corporations who now inveigled their way into just about every aspect of our lives now, with probably far more control over our lives than any elected govt might have, we can't even park our cars without a foreign corporation now (Wilson's) and even some of our most iconic food brands, Vogels, Edmonds and many more are now owned by the world's largest palm oil processor. I think we know instinctively these things are not serving us any good whatsoever.
There is change in the air, the big boys will do all they can to prevent it.

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I'd be interested to read how you'd go about overturning one of the fundamental pillars of modern Western society PA. Restricting accumulation of capital or foreign investment would be pretty unpopular (in the case of FDI probably globally suicidal). It's just reality when you live in a small cash strapped country like this one

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It's not if you don't outsource or sell off your means to production. The change will come from the bottom up, as it always has when things get too far out of whack. I hope I live to see it.

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PA I'm afraid commercial reality tends to disagree with you. Even the NZS Fund disagrees. In the Metlife sale they were the ones that pushed it over the line. Most large NZ companies once they reach a certain size or inflection point are sold offshore - F&P Appliances, Fletcher Building, Synlait, Silver Fern, Westland Dairy, Fletcher Forests - the list goes on and on. NZ land is the last asset NZ has and even that is being sold off regularly. I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.

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And THAT is why we might not have the wealth we should. Reality can be changed and should be. You can sing the praises of all of that, but you are going to find yourself more and more out of tune

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PA I'm far from singing the praises, actually I don't agree with it at all. I'm just pointing out the unfortunate realities. I was a shareholder in PGW and voted against the sale of their Seed Division, as did the Shareholders Association. The sale still went ahead to an offshore company because a majority wanted the quick money. Oceania Dairy was sold to Russian interests because no one in NZ would back them. It's just life in Corporate NZ, you just have to accept it. Westland was sold by its members (it was a Co-op). Swimming against the current merely tires you out and eventually you'll drown but it doesn't affect the river one little bit.

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Untill the river drys up.

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Oh and if we do not roll all of this back, we are pretty much effed.

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"" The clue to capitalism is in it's very name, "capital" and the accumulation of same"" Is its steady accumulation by an ever narrower elite a necessity? Surely the end of that process would be the feudalism of the past or its equivalents in the worst of Latin America today. Capitalism meaning the importance of assigning capital wisely was what dragged the western world from starvation and illiteracy into the modern world. It makes no difference who has the capital whether it is a govt or an individual or an insurance or pension company what matters for investment is trust and the rule of law. Capitalism is not good or bad in itself.
Agreed now they are out of absolute poverty people are beginning to question what kind of world they want to live in. They don't want uncontrolled capitalism. However it will take capital to convert us from how we are now into some sort of a sustainable future.

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Yeah lets see where we go from here. The future certainly does not lie in past thinking. This new govt gives me hope of a new path, where that leads us we shall see but I am sure it will be far more interesting than the nats would ever have the imagination to take us.

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Two of the Greens' charter principles get to the heart of this:

Ecological Wisdom - The basis of ecological wisdom is that human beings are part of the natural world. This world is finite, therefore unlimited material growth is impossible. Ecological sustainability is paramount.

Social Responsibility - Unlimited material growth is impossible. Therefore the key to social responsibility is the just distribution of social and natural resources, both locally and globally.

(The Charter also includes Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document, appropriate decision-making, and non-violence.)

These are necessary starting statements for a world that has to change to address our global crises such as climate change and our biodiversity crisis.

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It's probably simpler than that.

“This Is John Key” exercise introduced us to the boy raised by his widowed mum in a statehouse. The boy who went on to marry his high-school sweetheart and make $55 million trading currencies. We saw him visit the residents of McGeehan Close in Helen Clark’s electorate – a feet-on-the-ground reiteration of his concern about New Zealand’s growing underclass. Multi-millionaire he may have been, but Key had not forgotten where he came from."

But he did forget; acted and governed in a manner opposite to the PR in the above paragraph and left before the voters reminded him of his duplicity. It will be along time until New Zealand forgives him and his Governments' failure to do what had to be done. Unless.......
Jacinda Ardern does something similar.

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Yip I think you can already see Adern's narrative changing now that she's in power. Its slowly breaking down her resolve as well. Backing down on the capital gains tax I think shows that she will ultimately be put in the same boat as John Key - unless of course we have a debt meltdown that corrects asset prices, which won't be her doing, but she might be able to say 'look we fixed the home affordability problem'. Even though it was via lack of policy that caused it, not because of proactive policy that shaped the desired outcome.

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John Key’s background, success and expertise lay deep in the financial power plays in the corporate world. So as any good sportsman, he played to his strength and that morphed into the building of Corporate New Zealand with him at the helm, a true blue corporate leader. The trouble is corporates have much unsavoury and punitive history with regard to junior staff and minority shareholders, in other words us the ordinary folk on the street. Muldoon knew, and Bolger mostly too, that at the end of the day, each election, those folk nonetheless carry the most votes. Corporate National had become, complacent, conceited and careless and out of touch with the ordinary folk and they still were six months out from this election, and probably still are. Two examples. Firstly the arrival of the ill fated Mr Muller who somewhat wistfully seemed to think things could just be simply reeled back to the halcyon days of the first two terms of the Key government. Secondly in choosing Mr Brownlee as a potential Deputy Prime Minister, they presented something of a relic, a blow the man down type of politician with quite some baggage of that nature in Canterbury, hardly a fresh, modern image and soon the untoward utterance by Mr Brownlee about the glove factory visit rather confirmed that notion.

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1. They need social media game.
2. Counter to activist method (Labour staged public walk about events, press given talking points), that is/are reflected & amplified by woke broke press.
3. Maintain dominance in leaders debates.

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National needs to get the hell out of last century and into this century, without that, they are toast

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They need to do a shipload more than that Henry, none of those points would have changed the result an iota. They had 3 years to formulate a plan but instead looked like a pack of rank amateurs without a clue. People seem to be focussed on the campaign but it surely starts 2 1/2 years before that. They were a weak emasculated disorganised opposition (despite promising otherwise) that never looked like a viable alternate Govt... the campaign just cemented that view.

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Yes they need to groom a new leader as JC wont work in the long run. Not sure who that will be but Luxon wont be ready until after the next election if ever as he is too much of an unknown....
But also you don't have to any ability to get things done just be likeable to a big enough segment of the population!

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"They had 3 years to formulate a plan but instead looked like a pack of rank amateurs without a clue. "

Yes, its seems to the MO of all our parties. They take being in opposition too literally. Rather than work on valid alternatives, they think their goal is just to oppose everything the current govt does.

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You realize that the COL stopped itself, nothing to do with National.

The COL had the voting power to do whatever it wanted, the COL of NZ F, Greens, they hamstrung themselves, deliver failure nothing to do with National, they just observed it & commented.

Plus prior to covid, National ahead in the polls.

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Covid was the greatest thing that every happened for Cindy other than Winston putting her in as PM over Bill English. Precovid Cindy was toast.

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Love the way so many commentators here are so, so selective about the achievements, or not, of the Ardern-led government.

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This is a good examination of the confluence between realpolitik and aspiration, and if National are to recover from the right drubbing of this election result, it will need a lot more clear thinking than a couple of the shallow partisan comments noted here. A necessary step will be for National leaders to have an honest and accurate grasp of why they have fallen out of favour with the electorate, and be prepared to drop some worn-out shibboleths. A good start would be to ensure MPs and spokespeople show a degree of humility and no hint of born-to-rule arrogance, stop seeing its sole role are the political arm of the business community and start listening to a wider set of voices than its has done.

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What still makes me laugh is their obvious desire to get in bed with China, or more specifically the Chinese Communist Party. Yet one of their founding values is to fight against communism. To be honest, they just look a bit confused, hyprocritical, not sure who they are, or how the fit in NZ society in 2020 and beyond.

I think like any team, business or relationship that has lost its way, you need to go back to the drawing board and say 'who are we', 'what are our principles and values', 'are those principles and values good', 'do they need to change','what isn't working'? When that is sorted, 'where do we want to be in 10-20 years time' and 'how do we get there' - using the values and principles we've decided are most important for our conduct.

The question for me would be - are we anti-communist? Or do we just flip-flop on issues depending upon how they best suit us (no...because that is why people don't like/trust you right now...) Do we then want to continue to push such a close relationship with China? Or like Trump, do we need to stand-up against China and bring back our strong right wing supporters (perhaps some that have been lost to Act?).

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What still makes me laugh is their obvious desire to get in bed with China, or more specifically the Chinese Communist Party. >

Yes, it is odd. And even more odd when their methods at dealing with China were as sophisticated as the Beverly Hillbillies. Their own saving grace is that the public was too busy to really take it seriously. The appointment of Jiang into the ranks was quite outrageous and goes to support the idea of naive hillbillies at the bottom of the world.

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That decided my vote against Nationals a year ago - so I never bothered reading about their policies.

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Caitlin Johnstone: America has no allies, only hostages
We saw the dynamics of the imperial blob explained quite vividly last year by American political analyst John Mearsheimer at a debate hosted by the Australian think tank Center for Independent Studies. Mearsheimer told his audience that the US is going to do everything it can to halt China’s rise and prevent it from becoming the regional hegemon in the eastern hemisphere, and that Australia should align with the US in that battle or else it would face the wrath of Washington.

“The question that’s on the table is what should Australia’s foreign policy be in light of the rise of China,” Mearsheimer said. “I’ll tell you what I would suggest if I were an Australian.”

Mearsheimer said China is going to continue to grow economically and will convert that economic power into military power to dominate Asia “the way the US dominates the western hemisphere,” and explained why he think the US and its allies have every ability to prevent that from happening.

“Now the question is what does this all mean for Australia?” Mearsheimer said. “Well, you’re in a quandary for sure. Everybody knows what the quandary is. And by the way you’re not the only country in East Asia that’s in this quandary. You trade a lot with China, and that trade is very important for your prosperity, no question about that. Security-wise, you really want to go with us. It makes just a lot more sense, right? And you understand that security is more important than prosperity, because if you don’t survive, you’re not gonna prosper.

“Now some people say there’s an alternative: you can go with China,” said Mearsheimer. “Right, you have a choice here: you can go with China rather the United States. There’s two things I’ll say about that. Number one, if you go with China you want to understand you are our enemy. You are then deciding to become an enemy of the United States. Because again, we’re talking about an intense security competition.

Em“You’re either with us or against us,” he continued. “And if you’re trading extensively with China, and you’re friendly with China, you’re undermining the United States in this security competition. You’re feeding the beast, from our perspective. And that is not going to make us happy. And when we are not happy you do not want to underestimate how nasty we can be. Just ask Fidel Castro.”

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Did he really say that??!! - If he did then maybe we should say back - "Faack You!! If they want support maybe they should start buying more of our exports. US is getting increasingly desperate and marginalised. Making veiled threats is always a good way of gaining support - NOT! They withdrew from the TPP, cut us out of ANZUS in a hissy fit and slapped us with tariffs recently. Money talks and BS walks - let's see where their money goes.

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I am not sure why China is described as communist anymore. It is now a capitalist country run by an authoritarian non-democratic state close to being fascist. It just happens to be run by a Party that has the word communist in its name.

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The moral rot in our social, political and economic orders is a source of hidden fragility. We're constantly told that 'corruption has been around forever', so, therefore, nothing has changed. But things have changed profoundly, and for the worse, as the moral rot has seeped into every nook and cranny of life, from the top down.
There is no "public good," anymore, there is only a rapacious, obsessive self-interest that claims the mantle of "public good" as a key mechanism of the con.....It's clear that trust in institutions is in a steep decline as the legitimacy of these institutions, public and private, have been eroded by incompetence, corruption, dysfunction and the rapacious self-interest of insiders.

(CH Smith)

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I think the 9 years of National's governance was heading towards a dead end. The problems and unsustainability of chasing easy wealth and growth using housing and immigration we starting to become more obvious to the electorate, JK himself and the rest of the competent National leadership. So when they jumped ship and the second teir members were asked to step up the electorate saw a party that looks no more competent than labour trying to give us another 3 years of the Key plan and questioned if they really wanted that (especially right now).

I think for National to find its self they have to admit (just to themselves) that the Key era was a mistake, remove the left overs from the Key leadership or wait for them to retire and come up with or find new post neoliberalism plan. They will be in no hurry to do this as the longer it takes that more Labour will get the blame for housing.

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"the Key era was a mistake". Well, put. And the tragedy? It shouldn't have been.
The Key Governments could have been the beginning of the next chapter in the prosperity of New Zealand. He was even gifted the 'excuses' of the GFC and The Earthquakes to enact necessary reforms. But he didn't. He opted for 'even more of the same'. And that's what we'll get unless....

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Lord Key developed his chops at Merrill Lynch running teams of traders. As most people will know, life inside these organizations is about self preservation. Lord Key's role was about sorting the wheat from the chaff. And for that he was quite effective. But let's remember, those were the glory days for the investment banks. So why not wanting to belittle his acheivements, keeping a steady ship and the best performers on the team was what it was all about. The irony here is that the trading life is partly about luck. That doesn't mean you don't need skill and character to survive in the business, but if you rule out the element of luck, you're nothing but a phony.

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Call me pedantic but Sir Key is not a peer of the realm so is not a Lord.
Lord is an inherited title or given by a government. On the other hand, Sir refers to the Knight and hence, it is an honor of Knighthood bestowed on an individual by the Queen. ...

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Suggest a satirical application of “Lord” intended. Certainly not in the taste of Lord Haw Haw or Screaming Lord Sutch but more so, Lord Ted as in Dexter the English cricketer, even Conrad’s Lord Jim methinks .

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Satire indeed. However, I do notice many of his fan base still fawn over him like he's someone with lordship.

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Believe majority of NZrs would welcome this government once againm and once and for all, dispensing with these meaningless titles. quite honestly some embarrassingly low contenders have had to be dragged from the bottom of the barrel.

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Agree wholeheartedly FG. The day professional sportsmen/women get nominated for knighthoods etc is the day they should be dispensed with. Mind you, some muppet nominated Ardern for a Nobel Peace Prize - makes a mockery of the whole accolade.

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I think a big problem for the Nats and the right in general is that many people in the middle can see that the free market ideology doesn't work in terms of housing. Freeing up regulation often results in higher housing costs. Even Labour don't really get it.
In many respects the policies of Labour and National are not much different, and it's just a popularity contest. So we swing from one popular centrist - Key - to another popular centrist, Ardern.
And then we will probably swing to the next popular centrist for the Nats.
Neither party have the policy or the courage to take the country in the right direction.

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I would not consider our housing market to be anything close to a free market. It gets special treatment to boost prices: Working for families and accommodation supplements to boost rents, kiwi saver withdrawals and other first home buyer subsides and the RBNZ stepping in whenever the immense debt burden of housing and farms threatens to affect the rest of the economy because of a politically set remit. The market is centrally planed and any government with real political will to pop the bubble will find it trivial to do so but find it harder to make a controlled decent.

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Its a State Run Capitalist Market

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You cant have both in the same sentence..capitalism
an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

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Somewhere in the bowels of Government there must be a deep-throat who will one day reveal why immigration and housing are sacred cows. The opiate of the masses. Secret Business

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They are derivative symptoms of the free trade doctrine enshrined in the Washington Consensus.

We traded our jobs for debt, that's what free trade was about. China got the jobs we got the debt.

Financialisation prioritises debt service above wages - hence cheap competitive, imported labour, where humanly possible?

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Immigration - a larger population/tax base to pay the cost of the boomers super.

Housing - if prices fall the entire economy could well collapse.

Don't think its a secret - is it?

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Dp

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I have no allegiance to any party and have never understood how people can be so blinkered as to be life-long supporters of any one party. I say that with good friends who do just that. I did not support National at the election, but for democracy's sake, I would like to see them regroup-bin Collins, Brownlee, Goodfellow and some others and become a strong centre-right opposition.

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Agreed. They certainly do need to do something. Brownlee will probably retire, Goodfellow (bit of an oxymoron that) should go, the Board needs a refresh. Collins may as well stay for a bit mainly because there isn't much else to choose from. Expect a Labour or Labour led Govt for the next 6 years imv

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We need a Govt willing to tackle 2 major problems.
.1. The superanuation age if not that the reintroduction of means testing.
2. We need a massive state house building program to give a hand up to the not so fortunate.
Now i lean right in my political views and i hate handouts, but if somebody don't do something soon then the right will be overthrown at some point.
Writing is on the wall.

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Agreed about the problems. Your choice for superannuation is no choice - at present it is means tested in so far as it is taxed and it is sufficiently low to permit sometimes generous accommodation benefits. Changes to tax bands and the rag-tag set of benefits might help. Where you would get a big kick-back is a policy that says 'earn above a certain amount and you get no super' or 'own wealth above a certain amount and you get no super'. It would be a recipe for employing tax lawyers and accountants. A wealth limit would curtail Kiwisaver so that would have to be made compulsary. Better to change age of entitlement, increase no of years work to qualify and make it pro-rata the years of work as per many other countries.
This is not self interest - I'm retired getting a modest income from an investment property and my younger wife (under 60) is working.

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the problem with super is not the age, many people dont make it to that age, then you have those that have done tough jobs, so by the time they hit the age they need more than super they also need a lot of medical, accommodation and home help.
then you come to means testing, most very wealthy have income structured so they can collect it all.
last you come to what if you make older people that can work longer, then they take the jobs the very young would also be in the market for.
there are a lot of problems with super and no easy fix,
that is what kiwisaver was started for, it will become over time the replacement for universal super in a couple of decades.
i remember when i first started work for a government department, super was compulsory, then when i moved to private companies it was up to yourself to do something and most did not
i tell all young people now that universal super will not be there for them so sort it out when young

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Most thinking people have known for many years that relying on National Super isn't going to cut it. Kiwisaver was a good idea and should have been made mandatory for all (even -if not especially beneficiaries) but it's now been subverted by allowing early withdrawal. I don't like means testing at all, income testing I have no issue with. A lot of the jibberjabber here about "wealthy boomers (f@#k I hate that word)" seems to dismiss the idea that they'll be gone in a decade or two just as the Superfund starts to kick in. I agree the age of entitlement should stay as is, I'd even go further and say retirement should be mandatory at 65 to clear the employment queue, add to that the removal of eligibility for returning expats and PRs

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i am glad they finally have this bill in progress, NZ super was designed to last most people twenty years, so by rites you should have to pay into it for at least the same amount of time. as an aside i have very close family member that went to australia when 52 and so paid in for 34 years but will not qualify until he spends 5 years back here it was his choice
https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/docu…

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Labour has strayed from its ‘working man’ ideals.
The Greens ignore its environmental conservationist roots.
National sticks to its ‘of the rich, for the rich’ ethos.

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Labour were smart enough to use the "Nash Equilibrium" and National just self-immolated. I have to say, the Nat's must be the most sorrowful state that I have ever seen either the two main parties. Bereft of new idea's, bereft of new talent, homogenous (white) and religious.

Labour will govern as long as Ardern feels like it doing it.

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National seems married to foreign ownership of NZ, and mass debt enslavement of tose that remain via massive debt to foreign owned banks. Cant see where that benefits anyone living and paying tax in NZ. May even be seen as a sell out of sovereignty.

Nats need to get to grips the fact that tax paying kiwis dont want this and will suffer the left's behaviour to avoid it. If they don't, then they will be 0 out of 3 after the NEXT election.

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"National seems married to foreign ownership of NZ, and mass debt enslavement of tose that remain via massive debt to foreign owned banks." - The policy (OIO) has been in place to allow for FDI through Labour and National Govts so hardly a National invention as you try to make out. National handed Labour a significant surplus so that doesn't fly either.
The left's behaviour so far is the one that has racked up significant debt in a hurried and poorly examined "money scramble" The only thing you got right was that tax paying Kiwis will continue to suffer. Let's see how an unfettered Labour will go - but with their historical bent towards an ever burgeoning state sector, I'm not confident anything will improve

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Labours was not going to unwind the foreign buyers ban and tax loss ring fencing rule. National was, which equals more debt and overseas owners. I asked my local Nat mp, who confirmed it in writing.

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Wasn't aware of that - wasn't well publicised. I don't see the confluence of foreign buyers and/or ringfencing with more debt. Offshore capital isn't a bad thing imo. Neither of those policies have had much of a cooling effect on house prices anyway so why bother with them?

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Cindy. Nice one. You showed her.

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1) This election was always going to be about safety and security from covid19 which Labour has managed well with some hiccups. Policy was never going to matter.

2) Jacinda gets it - she is humane and optimistic. Robertson reflects a similar attitude. The rest of our politicians need to grow up.

3) National will need to move left to find the center of politics again. They will struggle against such a genuine Labour leader unless they find one of their own or Labour fails to deliver with its outright majority.

4) Irrespective of the above NZ has had systemic failure of government after government. Our productivity is through the floor and our standard of living having dropped from one of the highest it the world to around 30th. This article sums up well just how much living standards have dropped - https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/123193640/govt-needs-to-targe…

5) Whilst not the sole cause of our decline in living standards the real growth in house prices (i.e. land prices) since the 1970s to some of the highest in the world relative to income has been the most unproductive use of capital possible (there is simply zero added value with increased land prices).

6) With an absolute majority Labour has a real chance to address NZ's productivity whilst also addressing poverty and environmental issues.

7) There is a place in the centre of NZ politics which picks up and continues Key's/English's wellbeing approach that seeks to implement policy that improves net welfare (wellbeing) per capita (effectively improve gdp/capita including accounting for externalities (e.g water quality) and distribution (poverty)) - who's going to grab that spot - Labour or National?

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Agree with all you say except 2) and 3). NZ needs more than humane and and optimistic - we aren't the UN. The centre vote is already crowded and is populated by the "I don't knows". If NZ is to be governed by a party that panders to those who don't have a clue or vote on personality then we're doomed to mediocrity.

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Political Parties come and go. What I would say is media in general (if not in totality) have failed abysmally in their duty to hold politicians to account and to publicise or quizz politicians indepth about their policies. It's just been a frenzy for sound bites, clickbait and advertising revenue. Q&A (with Tame) is a disgrace and virtually unwatchable (Tova O'Brien would be an excellent replacement). NewsHub is better but lacks the "pitbull effect", The Hui with Forbes isn't bad but is too narrowly focussed. With Paywalls in place now only those who pay get indepth coverage - democracy information at a price. The vacuum is left to be filled by blogs from interest groups/identities masquerading as information.

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What about panting and puffing John Campbell? You missed him
Yes I can't watch Tame he is terrible and a waste of oxygen.
I like Sean Plunket but Cindy refuses to be interviewed by him....

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Sean Plunkett ..what next Leighton Smith? Two very balanced gentlemen?

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Sean Plunket is dreadful, I wouldn't have a bar of him either. He loads questions so they can only ever be answered as he has predetermined they should be answered and relies on conspiracist nonsense for, especially, climate science. He is also a misogynist. He and the almost all of the rest of the tragic squawk jocks are just dancing to the tunes of their foreign owners.

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Are you one of the rabid left labelling everyone you don't like a misogynist?
Do you know him personally? I think he likes the ladies and had good interview with Chloe Swarbrick during her campaign.
I like the guy. Calls BS when he sees it

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There is much more to misogyny than you think. He calls BS AS he sees it, which is not always as it is.

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Better that than the woke and rabid left wing media who never ask difficult questions of Cindy even when her team have been an utter failure.
Sean Plunket is needed. Tune into him to get the truth on Magic talk 12 til 4pm.
For international news tune into https://www.foxnews.com/ . Recommend Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham. There is a reason they have 10 times the viewers than CNN.
Go Trump!
It appears you call people misogynist and perhaps racist (like the rest of the rabid left wing) when you disagree with their views.

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I have tuned into Plunket enough to know what I know of him
He denies climate science, demands empirical evidence, well apart from what is happening AROUND us (he even denies that) there is no empirical evidence till after the fact, which I expect even you can understand, is too late.
He says women just need to suck up that men are better, he is a misogynist
On David Attenborough, well I am not even go there, what Plunket says about him is even to make my blood boil, then his sycophants are all "yes, yes Attenborough should be stripped of his knighthood" and worse. Plunket is an idiot
On animal rights and cruel practices toward them, "man is the king of the earth, we can do whatever we like". He is an even bigger idiot
On Trump - oh yeah, that is where I do agree with him. I guess he is just a woke lefty, after all.

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Climate "science".....haha I love it!
You should have a beer with Sean and talk it over and have a hug at the end of it

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Well that comes as no surprise. No thank you. I will go with the science and what I see with my own bloody eyes if it is all the same.
Yes climate SCIENCE!!!!!!! Go get yourself some, and have a look at what is happening around the world.
I am sick of stale, pale males who think they know everything and deny anything that might interfere with their precious lifestyles, stuff the future.
You have somehow or other been caught up in all the conspiracies, it is up to you to educate yourself.

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Who's is Cindy?

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Interesting analysis. Was John Key aspirational? superficially you could say yes, but in reality all they did was use his origins to con the electorate into paving their way into power and then continue the decline that is denying middle and lower NZ opportunities. The National party seems to be modelling itself along the line of the American Republican Party as an elitist, wealthy and increasingly, overtly corrupt plutocracy. Luxton is just a continuation of this in my view.

This is the increasing problem with democracy and the current party political system. How to get into power to make meaningful change that benefits the people? National is making itself irrelevant to the people, and Labour is possibly too reliant on the popularity of the Prime Minister (as was National under John Key). Unless something of substance for the people comes out, the consequences for the country could be dire.

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"The National party seems to be modelling itself along the line of the American Republican Party as an elitist, wealthy and increasingly, overtly corrupt plutocracy."

What does that make the party that campaigned on wholesale reform, walked away from those policies altogether and have presided over even further, accelerated erosion of the middle and lower class as living costs spiral? You know, the one that agreed to the most shameful extravagant pork-barrel seat-buying exercise in NZ politics history; the PGF, in an attempt to buy a seat for their coalition partner? I get that 'National = republican' is an easy sell, but the reality is that if you want a party that shows no concern about blowing out living costs and imposing extra costs on the middle, then the Labour Party has a far more current and questionable track record. But that involves being prepared to ask difficult questions.

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GV I agree that the current Government has a lot to answer for, but it has to be admitted that COVID has thrown such a nasty curve ball, that no form of 'normal' can be applied any more. I do think you've exaggerated somewhat as to the degree.

A big part of the problem here is the gullibility of the voting public and the ideological blindness of the polarised voters. I was a fan of Rodney Hyde, and Winston Peters because they more often called out the Government on things that needed to be in the public arena. I don't think the Greens or the current iteration of Act are capable of doing that, and like National will be too self serving to deliver any real value in office. Mavericks outside the circles of power are valuable commodities in a democracy and i don't see that we have any now. As CT has pointed out, National has lost the trust of the public, and now we stand waiting for Labour to prove that the trust placed in them is well founded. alternatively in the next three years we look to seeing a new party (or an old one resurrected) that can offer some credibility and alternatives.

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There was nothing about Covid19 when Labour agreed to the PGF, or cancelled a bunch of roading projects only to bring them back once National started making headway about Labour not having an economic plan. The $20b infrastructure announcement only to hold back $13b of it until a later date was pure pork barrelism and should have been called for what it was - either the infrastructure is badly needed, in which case, why did it get cancelled and then bought back with the announcements being drip-fed for political reasons, or it wasn't needed at all, in which case, why back flip on the decision to cancel it? This is the sort of stuffing around with critical services that the Republicans excel at, but people are only ever prepared to take the lazy route and apply that label to the Nats, even when there is a Labour government engaging in the exact same behaviour.

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I was less concerned with the existence of the PGF than who got to decide where it was spent. In my opinion Jones was a clown and he proved that in so many ways. and this was a significant area of failure for Winston (and possibly why he lost the faith of some of his followers), but the concept of the PGF was a good one essentially.

As we know, infrastructure has been neglected in this country for at least the last 20 years. The Government turning it back on was a way to get more spending into something constructive and needed, when COVID hit. And yes I agree that the Government has vacillated somewhat on that. But there is a bigger discussion that is needed and that is overall Government funding, taxation and accountability. And these topics are seldom picked up despite the media pushing on occasion.

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Yep I agree JK had the perfect opportunity to cool the investment housing market but done nothing and I would have to say he done nothing about anything except to keep cool and to appear to be in control. And I voted for him thinking here's a guy who came from nothing. Where did he lead us? Bloody nowhere!

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