The general election may be at the back of everyone’s minds at the moment, but it shouldn’t be. As soon as New Zealand gets to level 2 which could only be 2 weeks away, discussions around when electioneering will start again will be in full flow.
A couple of things seem obvious. Firstly, Jacinda Ardern seems hell bent on not moving the election date, and why should she, at the moment it seems like she’s managed the whole Covid situation well (on the surface). New Zealand has suffered a fraction of deaths and cases that the rest of the world have. Whether she got lucky, or it was a case of good management is for another discussion. Secondly, there seems to be a crisis looming at the helm of the National Party.
Just a month before Coronavirus hit our shores, Jacinda Arderns popularity was in descent. She was tripping from one mismanaged crisis to another. The National Party polling married with the tanking popularity of NZ First and their seemingly obstructive and unchallengeable leader, was putting National close to being able to govern. Only the hapless Green Party were standing in their way. The one issue that was being overshadowed, was that Simon Bridges was still only polling 10% as preferred Prime Minister to someone that was struggling to manage each and every challenge thrown her way.
Fast forward 2 months, Ardern who is seemingly saved by a humanitarian crisis every time she’s on the ropes, is back in the ascendancy, whilst Bridges who has been practically invisible throughout the Coronavirus pandemic, was rumoured to be quoting Trump rhetoric, is now the biggest threat to Nationals chances of winning the upcoming election, especially with rumours coming from within the party itself, that they could lose 15 seats if the election was held tomorrow.
So, what are National going to do, are they seriously going to head into an election with a leader that simply cannot galvanise enough support and knowingly lose the election. Personally, whilst they have to publicly back their leader, knowing this far out that they are going to lose the election, and that their leadership issues are the cause of it, why are they not acting. The New Zealand public will not fall for a last-minute leadership change as they did last election when Ardern took control of the Labour Party weeks before the election,
They need to act before June, heading into a general election knowing you are going to lose, and not taking action prior, is akin to the disgraceful leadership shown by both Trump and Johnson in their country’s mismanagement of Coronavirus.
The National Party’s refusal to act in a seemingly no-win situation, would be insulting their campaign teams and helpers, the National Party paid members, and the New Zealand public in general. By offering basically no contest, it is also very dangerous for the New Zealand economy to allow an unchallenged party to lead almost alone.
We have already seen this term, that Ardern and her cabinet are inept when it comes to economic management and business understanding, with members of her cabinet and herself failing to understand the basics such as what GDP stands for.
For National to tank an election and allow the government back in unchallenged, and with a dangerous agenda introducing more taxes such as the capital gains tax is blatant mismanagement on their part. National need to set out their store over the next 2 months.
They either have to repair the reputation of Bridges, or they need to be decisive, and make a change. Any other options are simply unfair to the New Zealand public and its chances of recovering after Covid 19 has left us.