Labourlite is no road to ousting Ardern
To win an election you need 3 things. A general vibe that there it is a time for change, a strong coalition partner and a general ￼aura that you are a party in waiting. I.e. you present yourself as a ready and able alternative to the current Government.
Ardern’s injection into the leadership position in 2017 gave Labour enough returning Labour supporters to allow the balance of power to return. Enough votes to be a contender that ultimately would be decided by Winston Peters.
Even though National had the most support for any single party, without a viable coalition partner, they were left as the bridesmaid.
The 2020 election was held under the shadow of a global crises, the type of which no one had experienced before. The realities surrounding this landslide victory is one, for any party, something unlikely to be repeated. Although some of Ardern’s electioneering tactics during the COVID cloud, will no doubt be repeated.
Keeping the loyalty of the media and staying in the limelight will be two of the things Ardern will focus on.
So changing the current Government obviously requires labour not winning with enough votes on their own, but then also surpassing the combined strong support for the Greens (and perhaps NZ first) with Labours votes.
Let’s assume that, as much as Winston will get traction with his anti woke rhetoric, he will end up installing Labour again if given the chance.
So back to the 3 things required to oust Ardern.
A strong coalition partner.
Act is back and they are likely to do well again at the 2023 election. This is for a few reasons.
1. Seymour does a pretty good job in opposition from getting enough attention from the media, to being a genuine opposite style party to Labour from an ideological point of view. He runs the party on logical solutions to less Government control. This is always going to get votes.
2. Now that Seymour is no longer a lone wolf with the perception that he is only a marriage of convenience to National, the perceived wasted vote syndrome will no longer be an issue for ACT. People will have confidence that a vote for ACT doesn’t have the potential of being a wasted vote.
Next we need a general vibe it could be a good time for a change.
By 2023, I think there will be enough of this. Ardern will no doubt remain popular, but the increasing control of what you can and can’t do or say will take its toll.
Decision’s like oil and gas exploration bans, hate speech laws and punishing Ute drivers with tax will put off many of those voters that resist increased state control. Control that the likes of Ardern can’t resist implimenting.
So, if Adern remains popular -which is likely- then the real election winning factor required, is the opposition presenting themselves as a party in waiting.
In a day of personality being favoured over policy when it comes to winning voters, there needs to be an anti Ardern, of sorts.
A leader that not only has control of their party, but that mysterious X factor that gives the public the feeling that they represent the desire and direction of New Zealanders.
Ardern (overnight) increased labour’s support. She appeared young, vibrant and kind. Her positivity and appearance of wanting to fix all the perceived challenges of the day put Labour back in the ring as a contender.
The big question is, does Collins have the ability to be that future leader in waiting? Will the desire for change be strong enough to get the public thinking, let’s get Judith Colin’s up there representing us?
This is the risk National have right now. Is Colin’s enough of a personality to attract swing voters back to National?
Will disgruntled Ute drivers look at crusher and say yes, Collins is who represents the NZ I want.?
If ACT is good for around 10% of the vote, then Collins is going to have to lift National up to at least mid to high 30’s to oust the red and green combo.
In simple terms, National are going to have to lour 10% of the voting public away from Ardern. That’s approximately 20% of Labours current support.
Colin’s will need to start rising back up the preferred PM polls. This will require winning favourable press, allowing her to present a case for change and buy in from those that care to listen.
While the gloss will continue to come off Ardern, Colin’s will need to be the shiny light of hope for those ready for that change.
I don’t think this is an easy task. Collins is very unlikely to win by being in the right place at the right time. This approach will almost certainly deliver Labour their third term.
Not only does the leader in waiting need to represent the direction that the majority of voters want to go in, but they also need to be the person that the voters want join on the journey with.
Ardern was the leader everyone wanted to succeed and take NZ in a better direction.
With the help of the media and her great communication skills, the fact she hasn’t achieved any of the goals labour promised, but remains popular, proves that winning is all about personality above all else.
And this is where Collins is likely to struggle. Is she the leader that enough New Zealand’s want to rally around? Is she able to display enough charisma to give the perception that she is the right lady to represent the NZ that is wanted.?
That is not an easy job. Colin’s isn’t a fresh face, so that’s not a selling option for her, as it was for Ardern.
Also her selling point of experience isn’t a winning strategy, Ardern is now also almost a veteran. She is a pretty long standing MP. By the next election, Ardern will have been in parliament for 16 years.
Collins really has one opportunity, and that is to have the persona of being the cool headed nanny rather than being in charge of a nanny state.
If she can pull off the sensible firm but fair persona of let’s stop the state telling us what we can and can’t drive, do or say. Then she has a chance.
If she campaigns on, let’s allow kiwis to decide what they can do, rather than the state determine what’s best for us. Then she could steer voters away from giving the baubles of power to Labour for their third term.
Other than that approach, National needs a new hopeful that can inspire the voters back. A new face that people can say to themselves, yep it’s time for Ardern to move on, you had your day love, and now it’s the next persons go.
Right now it seems there is no obvious choice for who this person might be. And if they are there, it’s definitely time to start to shine.
There will be, at some point, the next person in waiting.
For this person to succeed they will need to be inspiring, charismatic and probably have some looks to boot. It seems the voting public are quite shallow here.
And this is Collins and Nationals conundrum right now.
I don’t think they have got to the point of being the leaders in waiting.
With a short time between elections in New Zealand, National needs to pull its finger and decide how it wants to present itself.
If they go with a Labourlite approach that they seem to favour currently, then they may as well get used to being a slightly larger minor party for some time yet.
In a rather shallow pool of future hopefuls you have.
Mark Mitchell – could be a good choice but seems content to wait a little longer and I don’t think he has quite the speed of wit to be the charismatic leader to win.
Chris Luxon – still too early for him and he is unlikely to get an easy ride from the media
Simon Bridges – simply a case of doing the same thing expecting a different result.
Shane Reti – although he is the current deputy I just don’t see Reti as our PM
The highest ranking female after Collins is Louise Upston and she doesn’t seem to be busying herself with leadership ambitions.
Here is a wild card option which would be a very brave call.
Thrust Erica Stanford in the leadership role. She is an attractive and intelligent, slightly younger generation contender that could neutralise the gloss of Ardern. She also can drink a jug of beer as fast as (if not faster) than Bob Hawk could in his day.
However she is a relative unknown and probably would do better getting a bit more experience and time in the limelight before attempting a leadership challenge.
Perhaps Collins is the best choice right now but she is going to have to do something different than what has been done in the past 11 months since Tod Muller capitulated.
I have a slogan for National
“Vote for your Nanny, and not for a nanny state“