- National 51
- Labour 41
- Greens 17
- NZF 8
- Maori 3
- United 1
- Mana 1
You need 62 seats to govern, so either Lab/Gre/NZF or Nat/NZF/Maori. United Future and Mana might be there but wouldn’t make the difference.
The Roy Morgan poll can be quite variable but they have shown a 5% drop for National in the last month, and with the constant bad headlines this is not surprising. The Government is still progressing some very good policies, and making progress on the economic front (despite the high profile job losses).
I think the Govt needs to do a number of things to regain momentum. They include:
- A commission of inquiry into the GCSB. The fact three other cases have been disclosed as being of uncertain legality gives the Govt grounds for this. Without an inquiry, the issue will drag on for the next six months or longer. The GCSB, with all respect, has displayed signs of incompetence. It is almost unforgiveable that they took two weeks to recall that Kim Dotcom had been mentioned to the PM at a general briefing. They should have located that within hours, not weeks. I personally don’t believe there has been any ill intent, but there has been enough errors made, that it is difficult to see public confidence being restored without a more rigorous inquiry – not just into Dotcom. Such an inquiry could also review the legal framework around the GCSB, so it is future looking also.
- Significant change to the Christchurch schools debacle. It could well be that all the changes are justified, and sensible in the long-term. But the why it was done has resulted in such ill feeling, that the Government needs to go for less change there. People know some stuff has to change, but go for the essential, not the “ideal” in terms of efficiency.
- Amend the ECan legislation to make it a hybrid body as the Commissioners recommended. When not even the Commissioners are wanting to stay on as a purely appointed body, you have to ask why would the Govt do this?
- Deal with the child poverty campaign (which is in fact a campaign for higher taxes and more welfare). National’s policies around welfare reform, national standards, reducing child abuse, better domestic violence laws are in fact all about reducing real child poverty, and giving more kids a better start in life. The left’s only answer to these issues is tax and spend. They won’t confront the much tougher issues of welfare dependency, the bottom 20% of students etc. National will. But National is not making the case well enough, and allowing the left to define child poverty as being just about “relative poverty” which in fact is just another name for income inequality.
- Position the left as the party of higher costs for struggling households. People forget they want to ramp up the ETS so petrol and electricity prices increase. They want more inflation, which will hit struggling families. They want more taxes.
All Governments have had spells when they struggle in the polls. It happened to Labour six months into their first term (the winter of discontent). It seems to be happening to National six months into their second term. The challenge is to respond to it, and respond to it well.