In January, the first public poll of the year showed National with 49.8% support, Labour on 29.1%, the Greens on 9.3% and New Zealand First on 6.9%. That looked pretty good for National. Unfortunately for the party, it all went downhill from there.
In February, the government came under attack over the possibility of taxpayer funds for SkyCity’s new convention centre. TV3’s Patrick Gower declared that Andrew Little had hit “the political jackpot” and that the the prime minister’s trouble with the deal was a “a great issue to attack the Government on.”
To make matters worse, Jacinda Ardern accused the government was “out of touch” on paid parental leave.
In March, a by-election was held in the safe National seat of Northland and Winston Peters managed to beat out the government’s candidate. Dr Bryce Edwards asked whether this represented “some sort of tipping point” against National. Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the result was proof of an “an increasingly out of touch Government“.
In April, we had “Ponytail-gate”, with the prime minister admitting to having upset a waitress by repeatedly yanking her hair. It was a failed attempt at a“bit of banter” said the Prime Minister but Metiria Turei pointed to it as “a sign of how out of touch John Key has become.” Leftwing columnist Dita DeBoni was already cross with the prime minister about other things, but questioned whether this could be “the straw that broke the back of John Key’s popularity.”
In May, we saw the election of James Shaw as a new Green Party co-leader. This was the government’s worst nightmare, because Shaw’s private sector experience, open attitude towards business and ability to tap into the public’s frustration with politics-as-usual was just what the Greens needed to break out of their leftwing cul-de-sac. In her speech to the party conference, Metiria Turei stated that the government is “out of touch” no fewer than three times.
In June, senior government minister Stephen Joyce was rocked by revelations of truly extravagant expenditure by MBIE. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted on things like high-tech screens, signs and even hair straighteners. According to Labour MP David Clark, this kind of spending showed “just how out of touch the Minister has become.”
In July, the Labour Party ruffled feathers by releasing analysis that it claimed showed too many people with Chinese-sounding names were buying property in Auckland. Press gallery veteran John Armstrong reported that the controversy was “just what the doctor ordered” for Labour. The Greens weren’t exactly comfortable with the tactic, but Metiria Turei did at least announce that the prime minister was “painfully out of touch” on the subject of housing.
In August, the Trans Pacific Partnership reared its ugly head. There were protests about New Zealand’s involvement and the prime minister was too dismissive of these for the taste of The Dominion Post, which declare him “badly out of touch” on aspects of the deal.
James Shaw showed he was up to the task by decreeing that the government to be “out of touch” on economic sovereignty. Not to be left behind, Metiria Turei declared John Key to be “out of touch” for not expanding Māori Language Week to a full month.
In September, the media spotlight fell on the government’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Duncan Garner slammed the prime minister for not keeping with public opinion on the issue. “The longer the PM digs his heels in the longer he looks out of touch,” he warned.
This was also the month when the government had to do an embarrassing u-turn on including Red Peak flag in the flag referendum, after Andrew Little declared it to be “totally out of touch” on the matter.
In October, the government should have had a pretty easy month for the government – we won the World Cup! Unfortunately, the government was revealed to be paying consultant Paula Rebstock $2,000 a day for her work in overhauling CYFs. Andrew Little declared that this illustrated how “out of touch” the government is.
In November, there was outrage in Parliament over John Key claiming that Labour was backing supporting rapists, child molesters and murderers in the Australian detainee row. When several women MPs stormed out of the debating chamber in protest, Rob Hosking of the National Business Review informed us that would “hurt National” given that “a huge part of Mr Key’s success has been his appeal to women voters“
This was also the month that Labour had its conference in Palmerston North. According to blogger Martyn Bradbury, Annette King and Grant Robertson both gave amazing speeches that “made National look out of touch.”
And in December, the last public poll of 2015 was released. Out of touch National had 51.3% support, Labour 31.1%, the Greens 8.2% and New Zealand First were on 5.7%.
Such a great column I couldn’t bare to trim it.
Interesting how the opposition’s strategy is to repeat the mantra the Government is out of touch as often as possible, hoping it will resonate. The problem for them is that having an opposition that is out of touch call others out of touch, doesn’t really resonate. The same goes for the media.