National’s strategy for 2020 is based primarily on the Ardern Government being uniquely incompetent in New Zealand history. Old timers suggest the Kirk-Rowling government as a rival, but in its three years it abolished compulsory military service, recognised the People’s Republic of China and established ACC, the Domestic Purposes Benefit and the Waitangi Tribunal. If the Ardern Government is similarly limited to one term, it will leave no legacy at all to trouble future historians.
The legacy will be some working groups. Even their so called major achievements of child poverty and climate change are little more than working groups to advise on future policy.
Bridges’ most important strategic decision for 2020 is whether or not to rule out governing with NZ First. National’s strong rhetoric against the perennial king-maker limits its options. In the court of public opinion, Bridges would be convicted of gross hypocrisy if he indicated he would lead a Bridges-Peters regime.
I think Bridges must rule Peters out.
Bridges knows he will lose any battle of the hugs against Ardern. But bringing together a new-generation National Party team, clearly distinct from anything that has come before, would demonstrate leadership qualities, seriousness of purpose, a commitment to meritocracy and an insistence on delivery that his rival clearly lacks. On those terms at least, Bridges too would best his opposite number.
I remind people that Labour’s Deputy Leader isn’t allowed to appear in public is the PM and Deputy PM are away.