Thursday, February 16, 2023

Cam Slater: This Is Luxon’s Core Problem

Yesterday there was a spirited debate on this site about Christopher Luxon and his lacklustre performance. On the one hand is the spin that he is a successful businessman and knows how to run business, and the other says that he lacks charisma and gravitas and is just not gelling. It is possible for both things to occur simultaneously.

But the reality of politics is you have to be trusted by the voters and likeable. On that basis currently Christopher Luxon is failing dismally.

The Newshub-Reid Research poll asked voters whether they trusted both the major party leaders.

The results show 52.9 percent – a majority – said they trust Hipkins, while 26.9 percent didn’t trust him. For Luxon, only 36.9 percent said they trust him, while 43.8 percent said, no they don’t. 

Luxon is in deep negative when you look at the net. Sure Hipkins is new, but people forget that he isn’t that new. He fronted a good portion of the Covid narrative and people remember that, irrespective of his performance.

While Luxon was having a good long holiday Labour was plotting the removal and replacement of Jacinda Ardern. National was caught sleeping, and worse they seem to have all the hallmarks of sleep-walking to victory.

But that all changed.

The Curia poll also highlights this disparity.

New Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, scores a net favourability rating of +27%, which is 28 points higher than Jacinda Ardern’s final score as PM. Not shown on the graph, the new Deputy Prime Minister debuts with a net favourability rating -12%.

Christopher Luxon’s net favourability has decreased 4 points from -1% to -5% while ACT leader David Seymour dips 7 points from -4% to -11%.

For preferred Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern was 34% last month while Chris Hipkins debuts at 30%. Luxon increases by 1 point to 26%.

Jacinda Ardern still has 9% while David Semyour is on 8%, Winston Peters on 3.5%, Chlöe Swarbrick on 1.9% James Shaw on 1.3%, Matt King on 1.3%, Leighton Baker on 1.0% and Nicola Willis on 0.7%.Curia poll


Click to view

The problem that Christopher faces is twofold. First, he needs to overcome negative net favourability. That is a tough ask just a few short months out from a General Election. He has been in the job for a decent amount of time so they can’t use the argument that people just need to get to know Christopher Luxon. He’s had months and months to do that.

Which rather suggests that people have seen him and they don’t like what they see. His answers to questions are glib, rehearsed and inauthentic. People who have met him up close and personal say that he talks twice as much as he should, often with empty meaningless waffle, and he almost never listens.

The second problem for Luxon and National is that there simply isn’t enough of a distinction between Labour and National. When Luxon speaks it is often to agree with the general policy direction of Labour, just not precisely on the method of delivery.

On climate change, he repeats the mantra that we need to do something. He agrees with the crazy net zero target by 2050, just not how we get there. It is semantics, the bottom line is he is a true believer.

On Three Waters he just has a slogan. “National will repeal, and replace”. But there is no detail on what that replacement looks like. He’s clearly not opposed to it. Just the detail of the execution… which he will replace, without outlining how.

This is unacceptable and makes him look and sound like a prevaricating weasel.

The major problem we have in New Zealand politics is the willing acceptance of the average, the ordinary and the inept.

If they are in the Red Team they are bad, if they are in the Blue Team they are good, despite the obvious flaws in the leadership on both sides. Any criticism warranted or not is howled down. The claim is that we should accept mediocrity, if it comes from the Blue Team, because we need to do anything, even elect a woke womble globalist to replace the Red Team Woke, womble globalist… because.

The arguments really are that facile.

I had lunch on Monday with a group of seriously wealthy business people, who all, to a man said that Luxon doesn’t do it for them. That is a problem, especially when you consider many of them were significant donors to National under John Key. To a man, they said their wallets are closed to National.

That is a problem, and I suspect it is bigger than those wearing blue blinkers would care to admit.

They say, “Both ACT and National are poor substitutes for real change but currently they are the options unless we want a return to Ardern policies if Hipkins wins because only a total moron would be fooled by his ‘U turn'”.

Which rather ignores political reality. The voters will be fooled, and Labour has command of the Treasury benches and so the budget will be a lolly scramble that will make National look miserable in comparison. People really are that fickle. Ignore that at your peril.

National for their part needs to show people that Labour are poor guardians of the economy, and frankly, they are failing to do that for the man in the street. It matters not what commenters here think, we are all well-informed, but Mr and Mrs Joe Average are not, and that is who you have to convince.

Right now, as I see it, Labour has a path, a narrow one, but still a path to victory. I can’t say the same for National. Part of that problem is what I outlined at the start of this article. Voters simply do not see Christopher Luxon as either believable or trustworthy. Again, you ignore that at your peril.

The very sensible Sally says “Luxon could be all those things you claim but does he inspire people? Not only does he need to get “always vote National people” on his side he needs to get those on the fringes to lift the vote. The aim is to get more followers and support than Hipkins and the Labour Party and give people a reason why they should vote National. It is not happening at the moment.” She’s dead right.

Elections are won and lost these days by as few as 5% or as many as 10% of the electorate. The margins are slim and the party that makes the best pitch at those people in the middle will win, but it will be a close-run thing.

Ultimately all we will be doing is changing one managerial class party for another managerial class party. It is changing the deck chairs on the Titanic and swapping out the orchestra as the good ship New Zealand slowly slips below the waves.

The only argument in favour of Luxon is TINA – There Is No Alternative. That is not a viable or even remotely sensible argument.

Christopher Luxon better wake the hell up, or he will be just another one-term National loser leader who lost because he couldn’t and the party wouldn’t recognise clear and demonstrable failings and then act to correct them.

Cam Slater is a New Zealand-based blogger, best known for his role in Dirty Politics and publishing the Whale Oil Beef Hooked blog, which operated from 2005 until it closed in 2019. This article was first published HERE.


Steve Ellis said...

Excellent summary of National's deep seated party malaise and non appeal to the Electorate. A simple message to the Electorate from Luxon on Co-Governance would be - Governance YES, Co-Governance NO. Take the diversion with the ToW out of that space.

Steve Ellis

greg dervan said...

Iam in Luxons electorate .5km from his office.The majority of voters here are Asian,Indian,Sth African and European New Zealanders.Iam very comfortable with My neighbours, but with Luxon and or the National party they dont seem to be monitoring the media outlets that count for the real views of the New Zealanders whom would support National.They seem to have no idea of what is being discussed, Here, On Zb, The Platform,some time slots on Today Fm ,Stop Co- governance[with meetings throughout Nz]Hobsons Pledge, to name a few.Luxon is like a wind up doll on 2-3 issues leaving wriggle room and the word' Outcome' gets repeated like a machine gun.Whilst cost of living/health/education/ and now climate change are the old chestnuts,The electorate here and citizens throughout Nz have had a gut full of maorification in Nz.Where is Luxon and National on this issue? My neighbours consentrate on improving their English to fit in to Nz.They wonder why, seeing 98% of the country speak English,they would be expected to also understand pidgen menglish.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, if you asked the general public two years ago if they trusted Ardern, 80% would have said yes. And look what we got, the worst PM ever, and look what you lost, your freedom and right to choose.

And now we swap out Ardern for Hipkins, who was at the very center of the storm, and we all now trust him because he looks like a harmless school boy

The question is bollocks and so is the survey.

The best chance we have of keeping the Country viable is voting for a National / Act party and get this lot out.
Time we stop pointing sticks and picking apart the opposition and start getting behind them.

Ricardo C said...

The Kiwi / Iwi argument put forward by Brash for National got the predictable "racist" feed back. Luxon appears to not be strong enough to front foot this aspect. As an ACT supporter since Douglas (Labour) and Quigley (National) formed it on the platform of individual responsibility/accountability, I have been disappointed that MSM have labelled the party further right than Genghis Khan. It seems our educational system no longer teaches core values, and I'd suggest child centred learning results in childish thinking. Anyway both "main" parties do not appeal - very little difference - so while I'd like to move somewhere more enlightened, it appears it's somewhere I've not heard about. In a word, the West is .... (add your own - lost, f***d, gone burger!)