In defence of Judith Collins, good on her for being so tenacious.
She was on the Mike Hosking Breakfast yesterday and she sounded strong and unflustered. Whether she's privately flustered remains to be seen, but the fact is that publicly, she remains stoic.
Which is impressive. She knows she has to be, I guess, given her party is prone to panic at first signs of bad polling. National tends to work themselves into a frenzy and that serves no purpose other than to make them look shambolic.
So Judith does well to hold her line. No she won’t resile from her position or her angle or the way she’s holding the government to account.
And nor should she. It is far too early in the political cycle to worry about polls, yes a trend matters and National will closely be watching that, and it does not, to be frank, bode well for her long term if it continues. But to write her off already?
Also, National need to remember that opposition parties don’t win elections, governments lose them. So attacking the government on all it’s not doing, or what it’s doing wrong, is the best strategy right now. It sure beats internal ructions and leaks and rearranging the deck chairs. Voters don’t care about what’s going on inside the National party, Judith was right in saying it’s a turn off for voters, and it is.
And I hope her party was listening to that, because it’s true. I also think voters right now are not engaged, they’re not interested, they’re busy paying bills, sorting their businesses, planning their next school holiday trip if they’re lucky. They’re not dissecting politics with a fine tooth comb like we in the media are.
They’re clearly not bothered by Trevor Mallard’s behaviour, or by the emergency housing mess for the homeless, or the public sector pay freeze, or the he Puapua report, or any number of stumbles and gaffes from Labour right now. They just don’t care, if this Newshub poll is to be believed.
My concern here is that with this ambivalence from voters comes a further emboldening on behalf of the government. Do they feel their mandate is only gaining traction? Do they look at results like this and think wait a minute, if we can get away with all this, what else can we get away with? How nutty is it going to get? How dodgy does it need to be before the electorate sits up and takes notice and goes, ‘whoa, hang on’.
Or, at the end of the day, do voters only care about one thing and that’s Covid, and they like Labour’s record on Covid and that’s enough for them, bugger the rest?
It’s hard to get a read on at the moment because I just don’t think the engagement’s there. We got so bombarded with politics last year I think we’re all over it, we need a breather.
How much of a breather? Well, I’d like to think we start re-engaging again soon, because if we take our eyes off the ball for too long, we might find there’s not much of a game to come back to.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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