Selecting Todd Muller as the Nats new leader was a historic occasion, being the first time in our political history in which, despite his 8 years in Parliament, a complete unknown filled the role.
His first month has been inauspicious. First came the witchcraft stuff, Todd assuring us of his conspiratorial belief that wafting about in space there’s a bearded bloke in a ballgown calling all the shots.
In a subsequent interview he said how he was affected by the bleak 1990s.
They were bleak for a single reason, namely the blind adherence by his fellow skybayer mentor, namely Jim Bolger and his inept cabinet, to the Reserve Bank Act’s high interest and exchange rate policies.
It took a Labour government to turn that on its head but in the interim we suffered an exodus of our best and brightest to Australia.
The role of the Opposition is not to mindlessly oppose the government, something in fairness, Muller has acknowledged. Instead it’s to hold them to account for blunders.
That said, the current Opposition is sadly lacking any fire, despite facing a government awash in ineptitude and surviving on the strength of the Prime Minister’s genuine charm and common-sense.
Muhammad Ali’s famous trainer, the late Angelo Dundee, summed the situation up brilliantly to me once over dinner in Miami.
He said the secret of success in the three main adversarial activities of sport, commerce and politics lay in setting the agenda.
Ali epitomised this. He had limited skills but made opponents fight his fight tactically by his confident dominant personality.
The best New Zealand political example was Rob Muldoon.
With the exception of a single 3 year term Labour, out of office for 22 years borrowed Whitlam’s “Time for a Change” slogan and won in 1972.
Rob gained the leadership a year later and pulled massive crowds, barnstorming the country and totally setting the agenda and once again Labour were cast to the wilderness for 9 years.
It’s hard to envisage Todd Muller doing this, despite the rich pickings on the political table.
The current de facto situation is that David Seymour is the true Opposition leader.
He’s been superb pointing out the government’s blunders. I viewed ACT as a dead entity but maybe not. He certainly deserves to earn a good party vote to put some colleagues into Parliament.
We’re on the verge of a massive economic crisis. Crises tend to produce exceptional leaders. Let’s hope some emerge among younger MPs for they’re certainly not there now, Jacinda excepted.