N.Z. in lock down: DAY 21

Yesterday was DAY 21 of New Zealand in lock down as we try to fight the COVID19 pandemic.

Prior to the COVID19 pandemic Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had come off a wave of support that formed out of public admiration for her leadership around the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack. And indeed a few weeks ago, just before lock down started, TIME featured her on their front page with an in depth look at where the Prime Minister would take New Zealand following the terrorist attack. It talked about her domestic challenges including the gun legislation, the decision to rid New Zealand of fossil fuels by 2050 and the frustrations around Kiwi Build.

As the glow from the 15 March attacks faded, National tried to get some traction with claims that the Government was going to irreversibly harm the economy by getting rid of fossil fuels. It tried to attack the weaker Ministers in the Cabinet and goad them into making mistakes that would diver Ms Ardern’s attention.

National tried unleashing the attack dog Judith “Crusher” Collins on the Government’s justice policy as small businesses continued to be pummelled by a wave of crime, committed by people on drugs or stealing to order so that they could fund their drug habit. But whereas National has had success in the past, people are starting to realize that “lock ’em up” is not working any more and that those prisoners who do get released have no support networks to fall back on, fall back in with the same crowd that got them into jail in the first place.

Some people are saying Labour has won the election without it even being fought. Yes, Labour has certainly improved its chances of forming the next Government, but to say that the election campaign is already over before it has officially started is excessively optimistic. And although Ms Ardern is the clear driving force behind the high support for the Government at the moment, there are several liabilities in her Cabinet who need to be dealt with.

Phil Twyford is most probably a nice person, but he is completely out of his depth with the portfolios that he is Minister of the Crown for. His handling of Kiwi Build has shown that he has little idea of what is going on in his ministry and the numbers that he puts up are not matching the reality on the ground. Shane Jones is a divisive, combative and – some might say – a bit dirty in the mouth Minister who seems to believe that he knows better than the Prime Minister. Whilst Mr Jones has announced significant aid for regions all around New Zealand, he has sought to undermine the Government when it comes to fisheries compliance by speaking against cameras on board fishing trawlers. And finally there is David Clark. Mr Clark’s doom as a Minister of the Crown is already pretty much sealed, but if he is seen doing something that violates the lock down laws again, he should be dismissed from office forthwith. His tenure as Minister of Health only continues because Ms Ardern needs a stable crew on board right now.

In saying this, I think National would be very nervous about any polls that come out about now. My picks for percentage of party votes right now look like this:

  • NATIONAL – 38 (46 seats)
  • LABOUR – 47 (56 seats)
  • NZ FIRST – 5 (6 seats)
  • GREENS – 8 (10 seats)
  • A.C.T. – 1 (2 seats)

National are a well funded, well resourced party. But the extent to which the world has changed in the last six weeks and the likely desire by New Zealanders to make sure that some lasting good comes of the lock down, might be sharply at odds with Simon Bridges very unoriginal view of how National would govern should it win. Disaster socialism won Labour the 1935 election because it put people back into work when the economy was copping a thrashing from the Great Depression. Disaster socialism might well be Labour’s saviour in 2020 as the economy cops a thrashing from COVID19.

It is too early to be absolutely sure of this, but unless National come up with an absolute blinder that balances the desires of New Zealanders with a conservative agenda AND gets people back into work, I don’t fancy Mr Bridges chances come election day.

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