Political journalists close to the action seem unanimous that Judith’s leadership of the Nats is over. It’s hard to disagree for plainly she’s not resonating with the public, as borne out by the dismal polling.
Given the government’s striking failures on housing, covid vaccinations and other key issues they’ve committed to, it should be an Opposition’s heaven. Yet they continue enjoying historically high polling support while conversely, the Nats are wallowing. Add the ACT polling to the Nats’ numbers and the situation is less dire.
Part of National’s problem is the perception they’ve been taken over by skybayers. New Zealand is nowadays a secular country, moreso with likely National voters and I know through hearsay this bothers many people.
Leadership is always a key factor in polling and if slightly diminished, Jacindamania still prevails.
Names currently bandied about to replace Judith are first Simon Bridges who has tidied up his previous abominable enunciation, and new chum, the nakedly ambitious, Christopher Luxon, both skybayers. Luxon’s credentials rest solely on heading Air New Zealand during an unprecedented golden age for airlines. That said he’s made no mark in his brief time in Parliament while in my view ran a terrible internal air service with non-stop hostess and pilot intercom babble and an infantile approach to safety videos. Perhaps he knew his market though as New Zealanders have always responded dutifully to bossiness, but the infantile Air New Zealand business carry-on anywhere else in the world would have seen them deserted by travellers.
It may well be the Nats should look for fresh faces drawn from their pro-active MPs such as Bishop and others.
Simon’s seeming problem is that in the last eighty years, no-one in either National or Labour has ever lost the leadership, then come back to reclaim it. That said, it happened in Australia with John Howard and Kevin Rudd. While the latter failed at the subsequent election, Howard went on to enjoy a lengthy reign on the throne.
But no-one in either National or Labour has actually lost the leadership then tried for a come-back. I exclude Bill English who was gifted it a second time, only to be thwarted by New Zealand First despite topping the polls. So history doesn’t really count in evaluating Bridge’s chances as he’s not yet used goods.
If nothing else ultimately the time-proven political pendulum will restore the Nats. But does it matter?
The answer is an emphatic yes. Our basic two party system relies on a meaningful Opposition to keep governments in check from excessive behaviour. That’s why the country should be indebted to Winston Peters for throwing the mantle to Labour four years ago. Twelve years in government is never a good thing and that is what he prevented occurring, in the process inadvertently rebuilding our two party system.