In Newsletter Editorial4 MinutesBy Dave McCoidNovember 26, 2021

Question: Who are Jacinda Ardern’s most reliable and effective deputies? Answer: the National Party. If she were asked to identify a single group of individuals responsible for keeping her higher in the preferred leader poll than she could ever have hoped, she’d have to point at the Nat’s caucus.

However, although that’s how it looked yesterday, it may not remain that way for long. The ball is now very much bouncing in National’s court. Next Tuesday will be a big day regarding Labour’s ability to keep hanging the red wallpaper on the ninth floor.

Good old Judy lived up to her ‘Crusher’ nickname, knowing full well her goose was cooked but ensuring the one person she didn’t want to be left standing in her wake was dealt a ‘crushing’ (or ‘Crusher’s) blow. Whether that’s been effective, who knows? Bridges has taken a hit in the kangaroo court of our seven-second attention span society, but will it prevent him dusting off and stepping back into the fray, or at least render him too scarred? Here’s hoping it does. Regardless of everything else, he’s not our guy. Ardern had his measure in their young guns days, and she’ll be rubbing her hands together at the thought of the Nats selecting reverse and backing up onto a known burnout pad.

Of course, the leader of the opposition’s job has as much an element of poison chalice about it now as it has in any other moment in history. Judith was scuppered before she even started in the leader’s job and would have known that full well. Putting her in power at a time when a young, engaged female, full of ideological tag-lines was fronting a crisis that had no prior copybook in modern economics or politics was essentially the Nats deciding she was going to assume the role of the sacrifice.

Whoever gets the top job under the blue flag is not going to have an easy road initially. All the kids who have caused much of the bun-fighting of recent will still be there until the end of this term anyway. Labour will dine out on that.  The new person will have to rally the troops quickly and get some runs on the board early. The people who create the wealth don’t like being pissed around, and the new boss at the Nats must prove quickly they’re in that camp also. The Nats must challenge decisions, timings, inefficiencies, ignoring any attempt to personalise the nations plight. They must also challenge the integrity of a blinkered and coercive fourth estate.

On the plus side, there are plenty of chickens in view right around the horizon for the government now, and they’re all walking its way. If the new National leader can encourage his or her new spokespeople to focus on their portfolios, and comment on them rather than themselves or each other, they might just have half a hope of winning the biggest poison chalice of them all at the moment – that of government!

All the best

Dave McCoid