Winning a third term for National – Part III

December 21st, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Part III is not that different to Part II – rejuvenation again – but of caucus, not Cabinet.

Labour failed to rejuvenate their caucus in 2005. They did a much better job in 2008, and that strengthened their caucus considerably. They failed in 2011, protecting incumbent MPs with the result being the only new List MP is Andrew Little.

did not rejuvenate greatly in 2011. There are three new List MPs, and six new electorate MPs, but this is out of a caucus of almost 60.

A caucus needs to have a balance of MPs. Not all MPs are going to be Ministers, and many MPs whom do not become Ministers still provide excellent value to their constituents and to Parliament through work on select committees. However service in Parliament as a backbench MP should not be seen as a life-time work (as it has been for Labour’s Ross Robertson) but something you do for a limited period.

It is essential that for 2014, National clearly indicates to caucus that MPs will not be automatically be given winnable spots, and that new aspiring candidates will be ranked higher than some MPs if their regions back them strongly enough. The Party Board and leadership need to send out unequivocally clear signals in 2013 about the 2014 list, so that MPs can make an informed choice about whether they retire with dignity, or wish to risk putting themselves forward for list ranking, and possibly ending up with an unwinnable ranking.

With electorate MPs it is of course between them and their electorate, if they stand again. The hierarchy get little say in this – especially in the stronger seats. It is worth noting though that incumbent MPs have faced challenges. John Key, Judith Collins and formerly John Carter all became MPs by defeating an incumbent for a nomination.

This might all sound rather negative talking about Ministers and MPs needing to “go” the week after an historic victory. That is deliberate. Winning a third term will be far more challenging than winning a second term.  There should be no complacency that the popularity of the Prime Minister will guarantee a third term. I am pointing out the need for rejuvenation now, so that it is not seemed aimed at any individual Minister or MP. It isn’t. I don’t have a list of whom I think should or should not stay on past 2014. What I’m talking about is the need to recognise early on that winning a third term will require some people to put the overall good of the National Party before their individual desires.

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25 Responses to “Winning a third term for National – Part III”

  1. Scott Chris (5,687 comments) says:

    David Farrar says:- “many MPs whom do not become Ministers still provide excellent value to their constituents”

    Not ‘whom’. It’s ‘who’. You only use ‘whom’ when it refers to the object of the sentence, not the subject.

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  2. pollywog (1,153 comments) says:

    …sounds like you’re gunning for a high list spot or fancy parachuting into a safe seat yourself DPF ?

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  3. toad (3,654 comments) says:

    I think Anne Tolley has already been given a pretty clear signal through her demotion. As has Maurice Williamson with his failure to break back into Cabinet.

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  4. Shazzadude (468 comments) says:

    Given that it only takes one National MP to dissent for the government to be under threat, would it be wise for National to threaten those backbenchers currently in parliament?

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  5. James Stephenson (1,885 comments) says:

    I don’t have a list of whom I think should or should not stay on past 2014

    I reckon you’ll be in a minority of 1 then.

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  6. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    National are on 48% with no significant coalition partners in sight (and a review of MMP which is widely expected to close the electorate seat 5% exemption loophole which the Epsom cup of tea strategy was built on). The only ways I can see National possibly winning a third term are (in order of increasing probability):

    1) Increasing their majority
    Chances are slim to none – this election the majority of the right coalition shrunk ever so slightly it just looked like an increase to National because they absorbed the Act party. I can’t think of an example of a government ever winning an increased majority on their third election.

    2) Formal coalition with the Maori Party
    Changes are slim to none – the Maori Party are only talking to National because they have no options to form a government on the left. If the Maori party shifts far enough to the right to go into coalition with National they would get killed in their electorates by Labour and the Greens and still wouldn’t be able to give National the numbers to govern.

    3) Coalition with Winston *shudder*
    Chances are slim to none (but this is Winston we are talking about so never say never). This is unlikely to help National’s numbers much – JK has long recognised that there are more votes in saying you won’t work with Winston than you would get by working with him.

    5a) Build a liberal party of the Right.
    There is a definite gap in the market for this. Something along the lines of the Germany’s Free Democrats (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Democratic_Party_(Germany). I’m not sure that Act is really filling that gap well, Their sole MP is an ex National Party social conservative who hardly represents a fresh face. The idea is a party who can attract socially liberal and economically pragmatic middle class and affluent voters who have never supported National away from Labour and the Greens. Any political project that is born fom Act is going to be unable to do that. Plus John Key has already moved the National party strongly in a liberal direction so the risk is that the brands are competing.

    5b) Build a conservative party of the Right
    There is support for this approach as shown by Colin Craig’s expensive adventurism in the last election. The question is whether there is a critical mass to push the party over the 5% threshold. Any socially conservative party tends to attract a religious element and kiwi’s are generally quite liberal and agnostic so getting the label of a ‘christian party’ is the death knell as numerous failed political projects have shown.

    Probably the best way to achieve this last option would be for National to progress one or two wedge moral issues this term – some kind of adoption law reform and a review of the flag (or some other similar bill that will bug the monarchists but most NZers wouln’t mind). The more conservative wing of the party (ideally led by a hard hitter with credibility like English) can make a big song and dance of breaking away and combining with United Future, Banksie and the Conservatives (as well as taking away a chunk of support from NZ First), The liberal wing of the party would move more to the centre taking votes from Labour and the Greens educated urban liberal support base and mopping up the libertarian element of Act. The end result would be two parties with a total support base of probably 25-30% each giving a comfortable 55-60% majority and reshaping the MMP landscape permanently. They could comfortably form a coalition with a policy platform similar to current National governments – the voters could change the government by voting more or less for one or other of the parties ensuring constant change and rejuvenation within the framework of a consistently centre right government.

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  7. Manolo (12,643 comments) says:

    Spot on, Scott Chris. Precision in language should be expected at all times.

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  8. Grendel (878 comments) says:

    Toad if you think Tolley has been bad then what does it say about the entire green caucus who have been less useful than a stone in her shoe. course its impossible to demote all the green caucus so some of them have to be considered less bad than the rest.

    if delahunty and hughes are the answer i never want to know the question.

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  9. tvb (3,948 comments) says:

    Maurice Williamson might be the next speaker so it is not over for Maurice. He is considered to have rehabilited himself with his deft handling of some pretty tricky issues.

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  10. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    I think making friends with Winston is the best option. I also hope the Conservatives will stick around. Even if they may seem like bigots some of the time, I think a conservative voice would be good. I know some National MPs, and by some argument elements of other parties have conservative views, but I think the Conservative party has some good to contribute. I just hope the people who voted for them this time aren’t disillusioned by their votes being wasted.

    Weirdly, I am not really a conservative myself. I am more libertarian than conservative, but support their stances on some issues, including drugs and the foreshore and seabed. I don’t think things are dire for National as yet. Winston will probably still be around in 2014, and will probably either back the largest party, or abstain on confidence and supply, so it seems possible that they could support National.

    Remember, only 39% of people voted for a Labour-led government. The rest voted for John Key or Winnie.

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  11. Pete George (21,831 comments) says:

    Winston in 2014 is a huge unknown, it will depend on how he does through the term. He has shown signs of his old nous, but has also signs he could be slipping.

    NZ First’s future could also depend a lot on whether any of the new MPs step up and look like credible repeat MPs.

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  12. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @ Joel
    Good point. Although the folks who voted Winston First can hardly be considered to be voting for a National government given Key’s declaration he wouldn’t work with them and Goff’s admission that he would be willing to.

    If you include the Maori and Mana parties on the Labour led government side and look at seats rather than party vote share (remember we have a ‘mixed’ system not a full proportionate system) then the potential left coalition increases to 42% without Winnie and 49% with him. But still far short of where it need so be and with too many parties to make a good government.

    Shearer has a lot of work on his hands. but there is precedent – Brash took National from the mid 20′s to the mid 40′s after their 2002 defeat. Shearer doesn’t need to move nearly so high to take the government benches. What worries me is the focus he has placed on reconnecting with Maori and Pacific voters and taking back voters from the Greens – he seems to have completely missed the point there – if he wants to move from a centre right to a centre left govenment then the party he needs to be taking voters from is National – 42% is still only 42% whichever way you cook it.

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  13. Pete George (21,831 comments) says:

    All the comment on Labour’s future prospects assumes something that has not been done before – a Labour-Green coalition.

    Pre-election Greens wouldn’t commit to how far they would go with National, they ruled out any abstention deals yesterday without going back to their members so presumably they ahad already decided, they just weren’t prepared to reveal that during the campaign. Perhaps they wanted to wait for the results to see if they would have any leverage, which they ended up not getting.

    So if Labour recover enough to put together a coalition with Greens it will be very interesting to see how the Green activist core deals with that, because they will presumably want heaps to commit to an in-government agreement.

    And if Labour also look like needing Winston it might make National (with a few extras) still look like by far the most reliable option.

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  14. Paulus (2,304 comments) says:

    National will have a big problem in 2014. The left wing will dominate, and under MMP cannot lose.
    Labour will be the larger left wing party but need the Greens, and the Greens will dictate the terms, – it will be ugly for New Zealand, but we will get what the country deserves.
    Farming will be taxed out of profitability, and ultimately destroyed. It will not take too long.
    And we will have Maypole Day and sing Kumbayah.
    We will become a Republic with H Clark as President. Treaty of Waitangi will cease to have any relevance – but that may be something good to come out of it.

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  15. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    “Pre-election Greens wouldn’t commit to how far they would go with National, they ruled out any abstention deals yesterday without going back to their members so presumably they ahad already decided, they just weren’t prepared to reveal that during the campaign. Perhaps they wanted to wait for the results to see if they would have any leverage, which they ended up not getting.”

    The process approved by the membership prior to the election was that if there was any prospect of change to the agreement or change to confidence and supply in exchange for policy gains with National as a result of the election then there would be a special general meeting of caucus and member delegates. No support and an MOU is the current default position. As it happens National did not need the Greens support so no change therefore no meeting. The party did exactly what it said it would. The also emphasised throughout the election how slim the probability of a deal with National was but the press downplayed this. When you look at the numbers the likelihood of National not being able to govern without the Greens and Labour (the preferred partner) not being able to govern with them were always very slim.

    “So if Labour recover enough to put together a coalition with Greens it will be very interesting to see how the Green activist core deals with that, because they will presumably want heaps to commit to an in-government agreement.”

    And they are likely to get it. The only reason the Greens had so little success previously was that they were a small party not necessary to the formation of a government. This is very unlikely to happen again.

    “And if Labour also look like needing Winston it might make National (with a few extras) still look like by far the most reliable option.”
    But who are the few others. National’s only coalition partners are two parties of one, both of whom were former National Ministers. Dunne and Brash have now pretty much become like Anderton the reasons for their split long forgotten they are National party MP’s in all but name.

    Pete, if you want to know why United Future did so badly this election don’t ask yourself why you didn’t WIN peoples votes – most voters have voted before, so the real question is why you didn’t CHANGE peoples votes. If I am a supporter of National why would I vote for Peter Dunne? I can’t name a single issue of importance to the NZ electorate where he differs from National.

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  16. Richard29 (377 comments) says:

    @Paulus
    You forgot to mention rivers of blood, death of firstborn children and plagues of locusts.

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  17. Pete George (21,831 comments) says:

    If I am a supporter of National why would I vote for Peter Dunne?

    They saw a need in Ohariu. Elsewhere it was an issue, I was asked that question. There were policy differences but the media didn’t care about them so they didn’t get any publicity.

    Uncomitted voters wanting a moderating or ‘keeping honest’ small party were prospects votes but Winston picked those up (the ones who didn’t just go with National).

    United Future knows more has to be done to differentiate, that is the challenge for the next three years. There’s actually a sound foundation for some fresh new political blood wanting a fast track into a potential position of power – a sensible build rather than a brash crash.

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  18. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    @Richard29

    “If you include the Maori and Mana parties on the Labour led government side and look at seats rather than party vote share (remember we have a ‘mixed’ system not a full proportionate system) then the potential left coalition increases to 42% without Winnie and 49% with him. But still far short of where it need so be and with too many parties to make a good government.”

    I already included Mana, Now Maori are not really counted – they will go with Government, and will (I expect) be much smaller at the next election. I just don’t think that Labour will have an easy road to office next election. I know it will be tighter, but the battle will be fought in the minor parties: NZF, Act, Conservative, Maori, United Future. If Act and UF die, and/or Conservative fails to make it to parliament, Then National will have to drive a hard bargain with NZF to form the government.

    It is possible that all of NZF, Act, Conservative get below 5% threshold, then National is in big trouble.

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  19. lastmanstanding (1,154 comments) says:

    MPs should have a limit of 3 terms. I advocate the same for Boards of Directors and always have done. After 9 years if you have given your all you should be buggered with nothing new to offer.

    Parliament like Boards and other governing bodies need fresh ideas new faces different views. Look at the long termers on Parliament Same old same old same old. Nothing new.

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  20. DJP6-25 (1,236 comments) says:

    lastmanstanding 2:35 pm. I’d give the MPs six terms. That allows for their party being out of office for a couple of terms. It would be the easiest way of providing the necessary rejuvenation. Also, a Clark, or Muldoon wouldn’t get a third term. PMs would only have two.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  21. BeaB (1,960 comments) says:

    From David Shearer’s first speech as Labour leader to Parliament:

    “The asset sales are just ideology, not the change New Zealand needs,” Shearer said.

    “Not a vision to help 157,000 unemployed New Zealanders into productive employment so they can pay taxes.”

    So that’s why Labour wants us to labour. Not for quality of life, supporting our families, using our talents – just to pay taxes. No guesses who they expect to be able to spend our money.

    So, no fresh face then.

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  22. Daigotsu (446 comments) says:

    “National did not rejuvenate greatly in 2011. There are three new List MPs, and six new electorate MPs, but this is out of a caucus of almost 60.”

    Bollocks

    National’s list is full of dynamic personalities with new ideas and innovative thinking.

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  23. Fisiani (861 comments) says:

    Nationals list ranking in 2011 was chosen by John Key. Places 1-55 were held by incumbent MP’s, two Board appointed list candidates to give ethnic diversity and Paul Goldsmith who was told to lose Epsom. Some National candidates were ranked in the 60′s but these were candidates in safe Blue electorates. Not a single National non -incumbent candidate in a Red seat was elected. The candidates in Rimutaka, Palmerston North Wellington Central and Wigram to name but a few electorates each raised the Party Vote for National. None was elected. None came close. They were cannon fodder in the battle of 2011.
    National is a party that represents aspiration and excellence.
    I know a young woman who wants to stand for National in 2014. She is excellent and has Ministerial potential. She lives in a Red seat. if she stood would she be given an unwinnable list ranking in an unwinnable seat no matter how good she was? Would every incumbent National MP no matter how uninspiring be ranked ahead of her.
    My advice. Option A Move to a safe Blue seat and challenge the incumbent or retiring member.
    Option B Stand for a Red Seat and be given an unwinnable list position. Run a noble campaign for 6 months but still be cannon fodder.

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  24. rg (190 comments) says:

    John Key needs to go, he has been the handbrake to the development of the NZ economy, Bill English is surely a waste of space in Parliament, get some of ACT policies into action and the economy will be set on the right path and voters will recognise that. 12 years of a Labour or labour lite govt has done a lot of damage to NZ. This National Govt will go down in histroy as being the most useless govt of recent times. Labour squandered all those billions of dollars and John Key has squandered the chance to return to economic soundness.
    We will ultimately pay for the inept politicians we have had governing us for the last 12 years.

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  25. Joel Rowan (99 comments) says:

    Having watched Parliament’s proceedings today, I’m less certain what I said about Winston Peters. He said he wanted to be part of a government that would take back state owned assets. Certainly, that sounds like he wants to someday form a government with Labour. Though I doubt he will stick by that, for now at least he is in Labour’s camp.

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