I’m old enough to vividly remember every election since 1949, which ushered in the first National government.

I’d just turned ten and still recall my child’s shock on Sunday morning (the votes having been counted overnight) at the sight of my father’s tearful eyes as he listened to Peter Fraser’s concession speech. For the working classes back then, the Labour Party had religion-like status.

Consider the subsequent political pattern. National ruled for eight years, then followed a Labour government for a single term.

Then came a twelve-year National reign followed by a single Labour term.

Next came nine years of National followed by a two term Labour government.

The standard three term National government ensued followed by an aberrational three term Labour government, for which oddity I’ll explain further on. Then came another three term National government which was heading for re-election until Winston’s intervention.

What this pattern shows is the post-war years reveal National is more aligned with public sentiment than Labour. In a nutshell that reflects an antipathy to change and a natural desire for stability.



New Zealand remains primarily a two-party system.

Over these 75 post-war years, diverse other parties have risen, enjoyed some temporary success and even been an outcome factor in some cases, but essentially it’s a Labour-National divide.

First was Social Credit which emerged in the 1950s but such voting success as it enjoyed was attributable to a protest vote by traditional government supporters, fed up but unable to commit the ultimate heresy and cross to the enemy.

The Values Party appeared in 1972, as a sort of urban liberal forerunner of the Greens. It was airy fairy and quickly faded.

In 1984 the libertarian New Zealand Party captured 12½ % of the vote but was folded once the incoming Labour government immediately adopted, not just its radical economic reforms but other policies, such as lifting the school leaving age and homosexual law reform.

Then came the farcical Alliance Party, which if nothing else provided entertainment.

New Zealand First was created as a maverick political movement but was always a Winston supporters movement and enjoyed fluctuating fortunes.

Now we have the Greens, fashionable and timely but obsessed with old fashioned socialist silliness which hugely limits their support.

Public participation in the parties, specifically Party membership, reached its zenith in the 1970s when the great left-right debate was at its height.

At a time of only two TV channels, the annual three full days Party Annual Conferences were shown in full. To be a delegate in those 1000 strong conferences commanded social respect.

But with the world-wide overwhelming victory of the market economy advocates, active involvement in Parties dwindled to its present minuscule state.

A recent survey in Britain showed the National Trust has more paid up members than all of Britain’s political parties combined, which says it all.

So what divides the habitual support for the two parties?

Labour MPs are mal-contents, unhappy with the status quo, full of ideas, and always seeking improvements and change. The Nats on the other hand are basically conservative plodders, happy with the world as they find it.

I sum it up this way. Unless one had a very high boredom threshold, one would choose a Labour MP as a dinner guest but a National MP as a neighbour, assuming you sought peace and quiet.

People basically don’t like change and seek certainty and stability which is what National offers, namely when in government to simply mind the shop.

But after three or in the case of the Holyoake government, four terms, the time for a change mood, driven by the political pendulum, sees a short term Labour government.

Excited with their new found unfamiliar power they proceed to turn the world on its head and usually enjoying initial public support, but very soon the over-riding quest for stability and certainty takes over and after a single term, or the Lange government’s two terms, it’s back to dull stability.

The exception was the Clark government’s three terms and is easily explained. Helen adopted the Nats “don’t frighten the horses” approach and simply minded the shop, doing nothing radical.

That said it’s Labour governments’ activism which have shaped New Zealand, commencing with the first in 1935, creating our welfare state.

Although it’s never recognised, the 1957-1960 Nash government was singularly responsible for the creation of our now significant manufacturing industries. Until then virtually all manufactured goods were imported. Possessing an import license was owning gold.

The then Minister of Industries and Commerce, Phil Holloway, introduced high tariff walls resulting almost overnight in booming new industries flowering. I know as back then I owned dozens of the newly built industrial buildings for which there were always ready takers.

And typically, it took a Labour government and specifically Roger Douglas, to remove the tariffs when timely, for everyone’s betterment. Surprisingly, few of the new industries failed in the face of world competition. So too with removal of farmer subsides which left in its wake a robust agricultural industry not dependent on the taxpayer.

Can I say anything good about National governments other than the much desired minding the shop stability?

The 1949 Holland government removed food rationing. It was a ridiculous situation. When as a small boy I was sent to buy a pound of butter, my mother would tear off a ration ticket. Why? We, seemingly under the impression the war was still on, were ludicrously giving our food production priority to Britain.

That government also basically funded state house occupants to buy their homes, this in line with National’s founding principle of creating a home-owning democracy. Margaret Thatcher was much praised for a similar exercise twenty-five years later but it was a New Zealand National government innovation.

The twelve-year Holyoake-Marshall government took doing nothing radical to an art form. It suited the mood of the times. Their only innovative action was introducing decimal coinage, that by the newly appointed Finance Minister, Rob Muldoon.

The Bolger government ended the debilitating compulsory unionism but otherwise was a disaster, creating an unnecessary recession by their mindless support for the Reserve Bank Act. This madness aimed at preventing inflation, a price phenomenon brought about by demand exceeding supply, squashed demand rather than increasing supply. The result was an exodus of our best and brightest mainly to Australia.

The incoming Clark government quickly reversed this and within a year, the economy boomed.

The Key government was the ultimate just minding the shop administration, boosted by the Christchurch earthquake insurance-paid rebuild and as with Jacinda and Covid, a public deference accorded leaders during crises.


Far too much weight is placed on leadership. If you think Jacindamania is over the top then it’s nothing compared to the fervour Muldoon attracted from 1974 for three years, before disappointment sets in, as it’s now doing with Jacinda.

Holland, Nash, Holyoake, Bolger and Clark never commanded public enthusiasm. As a political factor leadership it’s over-stated by journalists.

Aside from that the old saw, “the office makes the man” (or woman) remains true, thus the most mundane personality, such as Bill English for example, can seem perfectly adequate once on the throne.

Another appropriate adage from boxing applies; “the bigger you are, the harder you will fall”.

It was part of Helen Clark’s success. She was never worshipped like Muldoon and Jacinda thus high expectations didn’t arise and as a result no potential to disappoint. One of the most revered leaders was Churchill, yet shortly after the war was over he was swept out of office.



First, ignore their huge majority of MPs. Half will disappear. The last election was at the height of the Covid panic which saw Jacinda on television daily to an unprecedented degree in an election campaign. This compounded her already ludicrous Joan of Arc image after the mosque murders.

Repeatedly the media claimed she’d handled three crises, the second being White Island. I’ve offered $1m to anyone who can tell me what she did re that, to date with no takers.

It was simply Jacindamania gone berserk.

Add to that leadership change and MP scandals at the time for the Nats and the 1990 landslide was explicable.

An irony of Jacindamania was it also swept New Zealand First which had put them into government, into political oblivion. But today’s rumbling discontent everywhere reminds me of the mood in 1983.

The public are plainly awake to the government’s utterly inept handling of the vaccine supply and worse, to the regrettable fact they have been lied to about this.

There’s genuine anger about so many things now, whether it’s the spectacular non-performance on vaccines and housing, the ridiculous closure of our borders to vaccinated, workers, tourists or students, the introduction of race-based laws, the irresponsible proposal of a $700 million cycle bridge, the rage of farmers, nurses, the renaming of the country by anonymous public servants and well, just so many things.

It’s reasonable to assume the Nats will get their house in order over the next two years and will attract suitable candidates. Thus, as always follows hyper-active Labour governments, they will be swept back in by a nation craving a return to dull normality.

These are detached observations from someone who last voted National in 1981 so don’t assume I’m plumping for them.

To summarise; the overwhelming human desire everywhere, is for stability and certainty.

We’ve lived through tumultuous events since the 2017 election which focuses attention heavily on the government.

But in two years time the pendulum will be stretched and will swing back hard, indeed overswing and see the wipe-out of as many as half of Labour’s . That’s what our history over the last 75 years reveals.


Sadly, national won’t have the guts to reverse even the most extreme of this regime’s racist actions. We desperately need a party with at least a slight leaning towards the right instead of this wishy washy leftist lot.

My vote goes to the party that will commit to placing the maggot mob et al. on the domestic terrorist’s list.

    Vote Act!

      You could be right (excuse the pun)…

      Labour seems to be focusing on minority groups; with the majority distracted by out of control house prices (but only a temporary wealth effect), which wont be here come election time.

      Its only when the tide goes out, that you see who’s swimming naked….

Do I get the $1 million if I observe that Jacinda responded to the White Island disaster with her trademark “kindness and empathy”?

Yeah, I know, projecting pity on those who were horribly afflicted is the very least anyone would do in the circumstances, but she does it well. At least as as well as Princess Diana who was equally vacuous yet popular among those who value such things. Plus Jacinda may not have many talents, indeed the “empathy” thing is arguably her only one, but when you have the largest hammer in town, every problem looks like a nail.

So to summarise, I’m not arguing Saccharine Cindy’s “contribution” made much difference to the situation. Nonetheless, I could imagine a potential Prime Minister with deficient EQ/inexorable logic like, say, Don Brash opining that the tourists should have known better and they did sign a disclaimer, or, as Simon Bridges did, that he hoped the Whakatane tourism industry didn’t take too much of a hit. Some things, while entirely truthful, you keep to yourself if you are a politician. So kudos to Ardern for not dropping the PR ball when overseas tourists were horribly killed or injured, and limiting the potential PR damage to NZ Inc.

Anyway, presuming rather optimistically that my pitiful yet accurate answer fulfilled the brief, that $1 million can be deposited into the Kimbo Retirement Fund (emailed account details to follow), thanks very much, Sir Bob! 😳😂

But hey, at the risk of being a rowdy but amusing guest who may temporarily lower the property values, I’d settle for a dinner at the next soirée at the Jones Mansion! 😳😂

Reading this I feel like a child 6 or 7 days out from Christmas. Ooohh the anticipation!!!
An excellent summary of the last 50 odd years of governments Bob.
My worry is what damage these buffoons will do before the next election and then will any of the lunatic laws they pass be able to be repealed.

Heather Falkenstein July 29, 2021 at 7:52 pm

A very interesting set of observations……..which leave me feeling a bit more positive about the future of this country which has seen recently the worst hi-jacking of democracy in the western world.

    I Think Zimbabwe would be the gold medal winner in the “Democracy Highjack Stakes” Heather.
    But only by a nose from Jacindamania!

    I think arrogance is a word we could use in describing ardern and this labour govt. She just ignores questions she doesn’t know the answer too, or doesn’t want to answer. i.e. ‘do you have faith in your Police minister?’ Do you agree that your Police minister is a racist?’ OR..who authorised the Fijian woman to be bought to NZ on a charter flight when our hospitals are already overflowing?..Was it Helen Clark and why does she get to order who can be bought to NZ to be treated for Covid.? What relationship does Clark have with the woman?..
    JUst a few for starters. And why aren’t the media in NZ asking thse questions? Because they’ve been bought off, thats why!

Look for the Nats to confirm closer to the time, what they have said about reversing some of the labour wacky ‘captains calls’, plus other crackpot decisions.
Do go digging Dave, you won’t be informed by the paid for MSM.

Will National remove the creeping Maori Apartheid?
Will they blo away the insane Global Warming hysteria?
Will National protect our basic Freedoms from the Greens and Free Speech from Labour?

I do hope ACT double their numbers.
Voting for Nicole mckee was the best thing I have done in years.
Honest salt of the earth people…….

By God Bob, I hope you are right.
The behaviour of Ardern and her mob are beyond comprehension.
The last term was a warning of was what to come, then hiding the Simpson/Roche report during the election was the start of the current tide of disturbing lies and deliberate distortion of various reports and statistics to hide the real or full extent.
The vaccine rollout is a disaster to say the least and proof of their continuing incompetence at managing just about anything.
The MIQ system needs urgent attention as it is a totally hopeless and unfair system which is effectively holding the country back economically as well as the toll on people who are under enormous personal stress due to it.
The biggest worry is a public acceptable alternative is not yet starting to surface to any extent, allowing Arderns arrogance to gain speed and potential to become even more disturbing.

Howdy Sir Bob,

I’ll take a slice of the million on offer, but because it’s a 20% answer, 20% of the mil. will settle it.
Doing “nothing” is in fact a measured response and this is what she did!
If your nation has so little ability to provide correct hermetic care for burn victims that they must be air-lifted to Australia or the USA just so they have a decent chance of survival, then shutting up is prudent.

In this case it was better that she (and the media) re-wrote history after it has happened – hind site being 20/20. Rather than take the risk of making a decision that was poorly perceived after the fact.
Current policy all round really!

I suppose we can hold out hope. I can remember one day hearing Sir Bob say :” Labour Governments are good, they always achieve the opposite of their intentions.” I agree with Sir Bob and Dave [above], National Governments are useless all the next one would do is embed the socialist woman’s legislation. The Key Government increased the RMA from about 400 pages to about 700 pages.

Don’t forget Jacinda being credited with stopping that tsunami.

I believe there is a very strong argument that the Key/English government should received considerable credit in enabling the NZ economy to weather the lockdowns imposed by this government because they had dithered on taking advantage of our geographic isolation and closing the border. Even Orange Man Bad imposed border restrictions before the Ardern government.

Key and English deserve credit because it was their forward thinking “Fibre to the door” initiative which allowed much of the country to continue to work during the lockdown, allowed the kids to study remotely, and kept the rest entertained.

I like what I read, and Sir Bob, you make Alot of sense.

I do ask though, what damage will be done to NZ race relations, and how long will it take, if ever! to undo the newly created racial division.

2 years is along time to wait in politics,

Add into this Jacindas China cuddling, and the very real possibility of NZ being “The single eye”.

As well as her hate speech laws, and their interpretation of your opinion being, hate?

I do wonder.

Regards, Terry.

As a Kiwi outsider living in the States with some lingering skin in the game, let me just say that the classic left-right split – a legacy of the French revolution for godsake – is increasingly irrelevant to the way citizens view the political landscape in many western democracies. For example, more than 50% of those who cite their political affiliation when registering to vote in the U.S. here select “unaffiliated,” that is, they do not see themselves as affiliated with either of the two main parties. So, I suspect that rather than seeing the National Party as “stable minders of the shop,” Kiwis see them as centrist and sensible, particularly when drawing a contrast with Jacinda, a self-professed socialist and the even more extreme Greens….

Good call and as per usual history ,despite the abundant histrionics swirling thru the population does have a pretty reliable habit of repeating itself bruising the great unwashed during its passage -all is not lost just yet

Ardern getting credit for White Island must mean she is also responsible for the latest floods.

Sir Bob, with uncharacteristic modesty, you have omitted your role in the 1984 election with the forming of the NZ Party in 1983, and the part it played in the downfall of the Muldoon Government.
You were fortunate enough not to win any seats, and were able to dissolve the party when Roger Douglas et al did everything you had been advocating.

Good summery but I think you’re a bit hard on the Bolger government of the 90s The labour government would not have been in the position to spend and grow the economy but for a very strong economy left to them by a very good national government The economy was a basket case in 1990 , 11 % unemployment, 4 billion in deficit and the BNZ about to go under,inflation still massively high and in a deep recession
By 1999 the economy was growing at a historic high of 5-5% ,we had paid back vast sums of dept and handed out 3 tax cuts and Ruth Richardson had put us in surplus for the first time in more than a decade
The economy could not have boomed in the early 2000s without that fiscal background Michael Cullen inherited a very strong economy and an idiot could have had a good run from that
I agree the 90s government could have done much better if they weren’t so obsessed with inflation, and I believe Don Brash’s conservatism’s, we’re to blame for that
It seems that national governments clean up the mess from labour governments , and that is a constant theme in our politics So unless the economy is in dire straits in 2023 , labour, with its paid for media showering them with positives , I think we could have them for another term And that would be tragic

National might well dominate for many decades to come, because if the vaccines (untested and novel with runaway cytotoxic spike proteins that concentrate in the ovaries) ruin fertility, then that will genocide the Labour voters. The vast majority of Jacinda-mania people will be getting that Jab because Jacinda said so, I’m sure.

“They are us”.
Lets ponder on that and reflect on the sterling leadership NZ has given the world on another “US” front, Universal Sufferage.
We have led the world on voting as a people to give voting rights to all our citizens.
In 1981 we even marched in the streets to ask that South Africa, another country, extend this tradition to all their citizens.

And now a government takes such huge steps to reverse this and introduce race based rights without a popular vote on the subject.


Hello SB.
This is rather good.

Thanks for this Bob. Would be great if you could provide your insights into potential National leaders as it’s pretty clear Collins isn’t a winner.

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