I was about to write this piece when I came across Claire Trevett’s article in the Weekend Herald. I have to say there is usually not a lot that Claire and I can agree on but her article at the weekend was pretty much spot on. She wrote about the reaction to Ardern’s live video on Facebook following the Groundswell protests. Among the 20,000 responses were 7,500 angry faces, many more than normal. They were matched by multiple angry comments – some irrational but many simply angrily questioning whether the government was actually listening.
Claire notes it is the first real scratch in the Teflon that Covid-19 has coated Ardern with and it showed that her immunity from criticism has waned. This, says Claire, will have set Opposition hearts a-flutter because they know other issues are mounting that could also imperil the Teflon coating.
Last month’s Roy Morgan poll had Labour around 38 per cent support, meaning that they would need the Greens to govern. Perish the thought. National and ACT will also need each other. Claire thinks Collins appears to be overly focused on trying to put ACT in its place.
It has been noticeable for some time that ACT and National have developed a habit of sniping at each other. This should stop as it is likely to give a negative public perception of both parties. It is vital that National and ACT, while each need to run separate campaigns, give the impression that they can operate together in a centre-right government. It would do no harm for them to get together to form an overarching strategy in terms of how the coalition would work. There will be much work to do particularly in the area of repealing a lot of the legislation Labour has introduced.
National, in my view, needs a two-pronged election strategy. It is a strategy that, like Claire, I believe needs to be implemented sooner rather than later. I am undecided which of the two prongs, repeal or implement, is the more important. One is probably as important as the other. I will go first with repeal. National must say what of Labour’s legislation they will repeal. There have been many comments on The BFD, justifiably, from people complaining that National rarely change what Labour has put in place. Some give that as a reason for not giving them their vote, saying they are Labour-lite.
Claire says that while National has their ‘Demand the Debate’ campaign which is focussed on hate speech, gangs, He Puapua, and the ute tax, these are issues which ACT are also litigating. I don’t see that as a bad thing as it shows a unity of ideas. The point Claire makes is that in doing this National is losing sight of the core issues such as housing, cost of living, health and education. I disagree, but these issues are part of the second prong of the strategy. National, in the House, has been doing good work on these issues but that of course is not reported in the media.
As you are aware, many press releases from National and ACT are shared daily on The BFD. These are the exact same press releases sent to the NZ mainstream media who choose most of the time not to use the material that’s in them. National, therefore, has to find other innovative ways to get the message out. Social media is one way but I believe it is not sufficient on its own. National has to do a campaign of public meetings between now and the election to get its message directly to the people.
It is at these meetings where those attending need to be left in no doubt as to:
- What legislation National will repeal.
- What National intends to implement in core areas such as the economy, health, education and housing.
There is always an understandable reluctance by opposition parties to let the cat out of the bag too early in terms of what they propose, but I believe this time that is exactly what is required. ACT has already started doing just that and if National doesn’t follow suit, it is simply allowing ACT to steal a march.
The reaction to Ardern’s Facebook video and the Roy Morgan poll might just mean that the tide is starting to turn. If that is the case National need to be in a position to catch and ride the incoming wave.
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