I am risk of repeating myself two days in a row, but that’s only because National appears determined to keep making the same mistake.
So here we go.
National should not have walked back Simeon Brown’s comments on bilingual road signs.
When National sent Nicola Willis and Chris Bishop onto morning radio shows today, it should’ve been to back up Simeon Brown. Not to back-pedal from what he said.
Because Simeon probably hit the nail right on the head for a lot of National Party voters.
I don’t agree with Simeon, but I'm not a conservative voter. I spent five years learning Māori, so I’m gonna love bilingual road signs for a bit of practice.
But every conservative in my life does agree with Simeon. And actually, if you interrogate Simeon’s argument, it stacks up and it’s not racist- as he’s been accused of being.
He simply argued that two languages on a sign is confusing. Which he might really believe.
And more importantly, he argued that NZTA should be using its money and man power to fix potholes, rather than tying up managers and media communications staff and ministerial staffand probably the minister- all hui-ing about how their strategies and designs and consulting on new road signs is going to work and what we think of them.
Simeon mounts a good conservative argumentthat will likely find support among National Party voters frustrated by the state of the roadsand constant distraction on ‘nice-to-haves’ under the Labour Government.
And National should've just left it thereand backed him up.
But like I said yesterday, there are clearly people in that party who are embarrassed by what their voters think. And what conservative MPs like Simeon Brown think.
And they’re obviously embarrassed of the possibility of being accused of dog-whistling.
And so they keep finding ways to apologise to New Zealand for being the National Party.
They have completely stuffed this up. Because once again, they are the party of the flip-flop.
Once again, they are shaking the confidence of their voters and crucially, the swing voters that they need to win over from Labour.
We could've been debating about bilingual signs today and whether Simeon is right.
But instead we’re talking about what is wrong- as in what’s wrong with the National Party. Again.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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