No Minister

WHERE TO NATIONAL

This post has gone through several iterations and much of what needs to be said has already been said both here and in the media. Can I especially thank Wayne Mapp for his thoughtful contribution.

Those of us who hold pilot licenses well know that it’s seldom that a serious incident is the result of just one error. It’s error on error on error compounded. Take that analogy a step further and by the time Denise Lee’s e-mail was leaked by whoever in caucus National was in an inverted stall, 300 feet from the ground, and unable to pull up.

And right now National MP’s are running for cover, engaged in ‘off the record’ conversations with journos, and pointing fingers. Well listen here people, and I say this as a Party loyalist and activist with a certain pedigree, I hold each and every one of you jointly and severally responsible for what happened last Saturday night.

Put bluntly. You had collectively forfeited the right to govern and we (the Party) paid the price.

And it started well before 2017 when the Board failed to take action against an MP who failed to disclose his association with the CCP but who, once that information had been made public, should have been deselected by the Board. And then came the 2017 election where ‘we’ fooled ourselves that we had won and acted as though we had. I can well remember the 2018 Conference and being ‘preached’ at by various Party worthies as if we were still in power, buoyed up by opinion polls and a coalition government still finding its feet.

National lost it’s way with the gun legislation trying to be woke. And all the while egos were in play so by the time Covid-19 arrived on the scene the seeds had well and truly been sown for the catastrophe that was to follow.

The country went into Covid-19 with some very real advantages … we were able to pull up the drawbridge. You can argue the response around the edges but Labour got it about 80% right and reaped considerable kudos with voters from that … voters who compared what happened here with what was happening (and is still happening) overseas. And loose talk by Gerry Brownlie (and others) went down like a cup of warm sick. Yes, there was/is an economic price to play but voters focused on the here and now.

I’m not going to dwell on the leadership change(s) except to say while the Party could have possibly gotten away with one, the circumstances surrounding Muller’s resignation meant that Collins was well and truly handed a hospital pass. And for those of you who say ‘she’ ran a bad campaign my response … she inherited a campaign designed first by Bridges/Bennett and tweaked by Muller/Brownlie. Three months out and you don’t redesign a campaign from scratch. I note Collins has acknowledged she might have done certain things better. Pity some of erstwhile colleagues weren’t so forthcoming.

But I make this point … Collins was starting from behind the eight ball and she knew it and when Goldsmith trashed our economic credentials it was pretty much all over rover.

So, where to from here. Well, first of all the caucus needs to have a real ‘Come to Jesus’ moment because until it does, recognising their collective responsibility for what happened, then nothing much will change. Above all, the leaking must stop, but that’s easier said than done … one hopes and expects caucus members are ambitious but personal ambition has to take second place to being a contributing and effective team member. A caucus that leaks is not and never can be an effective opposition.

As for the leadership and right now Collins must remain as leader. She has said she wants to keep the job. Whether she still wants it twelve months hence is for the future to decide. But right now the caucus, wounded as it is, does not need a leadership contest. For the next little while the phone will be off the hook for National. The caucus should instead concentrate its effort on exposing Government failings (and there will be some/many remembering always that Oppositions seldom win elections; Governments lose them). But, having said that, it does need to signal its not mired in the past. Gerry Brownlie represents the past. A new Deputy Leader is called for. Were I to have any say in that I would be arguing for Dr Shane Reti for a whole variety of reasons … he has cross-aisle respect; is a policy wonk; is an accomplished backroom operator.

But there needs to be changes at the National Party Board level too and they will be voted on later next month. Peter Goodfellow, the President, should do himself a favor and stand-down from re-election. His leadership in the the last little while has been put to the test and he has been found wanting. There is a mood for change and its far better that he retires on his own terms. Right now there are four candidates standing for three positions including Northland’s Grant McCallum who has gathered significant support for his candidature. Grant is a successful farmer with strong connections into the business community. He has previously served on the Board but above all he knows the importance of listening to the grassroots of the Party. He’s tough and not afraid to rock the boat in order to make it happen. Grant is the type of person we need as President.

I could talk about policy but that’s for another time. Right now it’s the caucus and the Board that need to sort themselves out.

Written by The Veteran

October 25, 2020 at 3:51 pm

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13 Responses

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  1. “I could talk about policy but that’s for another time”. But to talk about a Party’s organisation, I would think that you need to know what you’re organising around. Surely it’s more than “we’re not as bad as Labour”. The policy (or the thing you’re selling) is what strongly influences who you select as President and Party Leader, and why people would want to volunteer or join your Party.
    I see you’ve put a lot of thought and heart into what you’ve written, [thank you] but unfortunately that’s the mere basics of what you’d expect of any political party

    Peter Stevens

    October 25, 2020 at 4:40 pm

  2. Vet – very well written and thought through.

    If the Grant McCallum you refer to is the one who talks to Jamie McKay aon a regular basis then he would seem to be a very good choice – he always talks a lot of sense and I have the impression he does not seem to tolerate fools or disloyalty.

    I Agree with Collins staying on and with Reti as deputy. I have also been impressed with the little I have seen of Chris Penk in the house – he usually asks penetrating questions and must be effective because most times Mallard shuts him down. I think he should be on the front bench.

    If they are going to make ground this term they have to show up the inadequacies of Ardern, Twyford, Davis and the many other weak Ministers and get some early scalps. Hard to do because as we have seen Ardern does not sack for incompetence.

    pdm1946

    October 25, 2020 at 4:50 pm

  3. Well said, Vet. From my well-sidelined position there should be a number of retirements. Muller, for example, is damaged goods, as is Goldsmith. Time for National to be pragmatic. It’s not even ruthlessness that’s required. And the leaker of the Lee email needs to be identified and sacked. Brownlee will argue that his experience is needed. Well, his experience got National where it is now, so time to go.

    Max Ritchie

    October 26, 2020 at 5:45 am

  4. Thanks for your article – I am probably not going to see the next three year election being mid octogenarian with a few aged problems, but as a lifelong centre right person, I agree entirely with your sentiment.
    The changes which continued were exacerbated by a slick well financed professional PR team from Labour and I cannot see this being beaten by amateurs such as currently in the upper echelons of National.
    Even the media were led by the Ardern Cult but never realised it.
    Slow breathing is required for a couple of months until the new year – there are some good new and newish Caucus members. They do have good brains let them breath.
    The media will continue to denigrate anything not left wing – likewise IGNORE them – let it float over – that will upset them but with skill we can come out stronger.

    Papa Mike

    October 26, 2020 at 7:49 am

  5. Gummitt got 80 percent right on Covid.
    And the opposition forgot that three quarters of the population agreed with that.
    Down Toms “the flu is worse” worm hole went the opposition.
    The election was about Covid. And the majority were faced with the devil you know or the unpredictably of the alternative.
    Own goal.

    Noel

    October 26, 2020 at 8:17 am

    • Eee Oop lad.

      First of all, I have been repeatedly assured by none other than a former National Cabinet Minister, that the National opposition took no notice of my stand against the stupid lockdown fetish sweeping this nation and much of the globe.

      And that’s true. National hewed very closely to the Governments actions in dealing with the Chinese Sinus Rot disease. It’s actually a classic example of getting boned in Opposition because… you don’t actually oppose. Given that, people naturally voted for the party that was actually doing it. Why switch to somebody saying they’d do the same stuff too.

      Yes, this election was about Covid.

      The next one will be about the long-term health and economic fallout of how we dealt with Covid.

      Oh – and BTW – the “flu is worse” crack is looking a little strained in light of various nations like South Africa, Chile, the UK, and Australia who are looking at big drops in the usual expected cases and deaths from flu and asking themselves where all the flu victims have gone. The answer of course, is to a better place, courtesy of the similarly acting Covid virus.

      Stunning science.

      Tom Hunter

      October 28, 2020 at 10:54 pm

  6. Peter 4.40 … before you can start talking policy you need to have the building blocks in place … a coherent and functioning caucus (because its the caucus that works thru the various policy options and how they fit into the overall policy framework) and a Board that engenders trust (because they get to sign-off on policy)
    Right now we have neither.

    And its no use at all putting policy out there in the next little while. As I said … for National the phones off the hook and will remain off the hook until the Party puts its house in order.

    Caucus has to cleanse its own stable. One hopes existing members, those with clean hands, along with the class of 2000, will work to bring those ‘colleagues’ perceived as precious and marching to their own drum into line. I urge them to do so because, as I said, until caucus presents as a coherent and functioning body nobody will care a tinker’s cuss what they say and do.

    The Board is different. Membership is a gift of the Party rank and file. Delegates to the National Conference have the opportunity to effect change. Seize the moment delegates, seize the moment..

    The Veteran

    October 26, 2020 at 2:20 pm

  7. pdm … your Grant McCallum is our Grant McCallum.

    The Veteran

    October 26, 2020 at 8:38 pm

  8. I find with aircraft accidents is there is always sufficient fuel to get them to the accident site…

    George Black

    October 27, 2020 at 7:02 am

  9. Thanks Vet – not sure he is my Grant McCallum but thought it would be the same man.

    pdm1946

    October 27, 2020 at 8:06 am

  10. […] Well listen here people, and I say this as a Party loyalist and activist with a certain pedigree, I hold each and every one of you jointly and severally responsible for what happened last Saturday night.  Put bluntly. You had collectively forfeited the right to govern and we (the Party) paid the price. – The Veteran […]


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