Tuesday 20 February 2018

National’s Moderates May Win This Leadership Battle – But Can They Win The War?

All Smiles - For Now: A victory for the moderate Amy Adams will not sit well with the National Party rank-and-file who, pretty obviously, favour the more right-wing Judith Collins for the role of Opposition leader. Moreover, the longer the race continues, the more pressure Collins’ rank-and-file supporters will be able to apply to their local and/or List MPs to give her their support.

IN THE RACE FOR OPPOSITION LEADER, the numbers are solidifying around Amy Adams. A consensus is forming among the journalists of the Parliamentary Press Gallery that Adams, with 20 votes, is at least 2 or 3 votes ahead of her nearest rival, Simon Bridges. The moment Adams assures the National Party Board that she has no intention of dispensing with the services of National’s chief strategist, Steven Joyce, her lead will advance by at least 4 votes. At that point, Adams will be only 4 or 5 votes shy of the 29 votes she needs to become Leader of the Opposition. If Mark Mitchell can be enticed into Adams’ camp (with the offer of the Deputy’s spot, perhaps?) then it will require only 1 further defection from either Team Bridges or Team Collins for the game to be over.

A victory for Adams will not sit well with the National Party rank-and-file who, pretty obviously, favour Judith Collins for the role of Opposition leader. Moreover, the longer the race continues, the more pressure Collins’ rank-and-file supporters will be able to apply to their local and/or List MPs to give her their support.

Team Collins’ argument that only their candidate has the strength and decisiveness to keep National polling in the mid-40s is already beginning to tell with those MPs positioned at the bottom of National’s Party List contingent. Indeed, some have already moved quietly to join Collins’ very small band of supporters – just 4 to 7 strong at this stage.

From the vantage points of both Adams and the National Board, it therefore makes sense to hold the Leadership ballot as soon as possible.

The less time Team Collins has to raise a clamour from the membership for their candidate’s election, the easier it will be for Team Adams to nibble away at the edges of Bridges’ support.

The Board, meanwhile, has every reason to fear that Collins’ efforts to rouse the membership could very easily set the National Party up for exactly the same “Us” versus “Them” struggle that tore the Labour Party apart between 2011 and 2013. (That was the fight which erupted after Labour’s parliamentary caucus imposed a leader on the wider party organisation that it clearly did not want.) A swift and decisive victory by Adams would, from the Board’s point of view, be less likely to provoke such a debilitating outcome.

The pressure is, therefore, on Adams to accede quickly to Joyce’s and Mitchell’s demands, so that, having pocketed their votes, she can commence the deal-making required to deflate Bridge’s numbers.

This is the point at which Bridges would be well advised to secure what he can from his position (a place in Adam’s “Kitchen Cabinet”, perhaps?) by magnanimously marching as many of his followers as possible into her camp and, figuratively, crowning her National’s Queen before the smoke of battle has had time to clear. The title of “Queenmaker” is not one to be discarded lightly!

With the serried ranks of the now largely unified National Caucus arrayed against her, Collins could elect to either fight it out to the bitter end, or, to lower her banners and join in Adams’ victory feast.

That meal need not taste too bitter in Collins mouth. After all, a victory for Adams can only be interpreted as a victory for the Key-English status-quo. Collins and her followers, convinced as they are that, ideologically-speaking, that status-quo has positioned National well to the left of where its members and voters believe it should be, need only wait for the polls to register conservative New Zealand’s disappointment at the National caucus’s failure to elect their champion. When that happens, Team Collins’ banners can, once again, be unfurled; and the battle for the heart and soul of the National Party can recommence – minus Amy Adams.

UPDATE: This morning (20/2/18) Steven Joyce further complicated National’s leadership contest by announcing his own candidacy for the top job. Clearly, the contest is now set to run until Tuesday 27 February. Team Collins will, therefore, re-double its efforts to mobilise the National Party rank-and-file in her support. Also stepping-up their effort will be National’s Board. It is now absolutely imperative that the two front-runners – Amy Adams and Simon Bridges – strike a deal. With Labour at its highest poll-rating in 15 years, the last thing National needs is a divided Opposition caucus.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Tuesday, 20 February 2018.


Kat said...

National will most likely end up with a divided caucus with one or more of the leader contestants leaving for a new right party. National needs a support party to have any hope of winning an election. The writing is on the wall.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I don't think so KAT. One thing national is good at is papering over the cracks and very efficiently dispensing with factional politics. They'll coalesce around one, and the rest will swallow the dead rat and pretend they're fine with it. :) And I'm reasonably certain that it won't be done in public.

greywarbler said...

What is written on the wall?
Vote for Nobody. Nobody tells the truth.
If voting changed anything they'd make it illegal.
For a cornucopia - use on google keywords: Politicians are...quotes.

This one is right for how NZ politicians think.
Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.
They never stop thinking of new ways to harm our country and
our people, and neither do we. (attributed to George W Bush)

I'm so air-brained. I get caught up in looking for graffiti, found some and then saw artful shelves for storing books
(3rd one down if you're interested.) I think we all need a short break from the endless ineptness of politicians when we know we could all be at least, humbly, 50% better. So -
Shelving politics

I did find quote from Terry Pratchett and feel that it probably applies to politicians who are as persistent as blowflies - the one I squashed the other day had live maggots in it. This analogy might help us all in understanding these poor bedevilled people, buzzing around looking for a place to settle, and make a suitable contact to feed from in the future.

Terry: An education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease. It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.

A tweet: Geoff Pearson @GCobber99
As the great Terry Pratchett says: "You ignore graffiti at your peril. It's the heartbeat of a city. It's the voice of the voiceless.
1:12 AM - Jan 27, 2015

peteswriteplace said...

Alternativ country-style party looking a possibility if Amy is unsuccessful..

peteswriteplace said...

National will not enjoy 9-12 years in the wilderness - a new party is therefore a possibility to gain a support partner under MMP.

Kat said...

Agree GS, on reflection I should not have used the words "end up.." they are already divided and papering up the cracks out of public view (as much as they can) which is why they now have five contestants. The outcome will be the result of lobbying and backroom deals reflecting who has the numbers at the moment. The one(s) that don't have the numbers will be able to present perfectly plausible reasons for a new right party. If national doesn't have a support partner then how do they ever become govt under MMP.

Anonymous said...

Labour needs mates too, one is at three percent, the other is at five, very much in danger of going under also. Will the next election be FPP in all but name? Could be.
National are fools if they don't go for Collins, Adams won't contrast well to Ardern, she just doesn't have that same exclusive x factor. Collins offers the polar opposite needed, rather than a copycat Ardern who is not. I fear that the Nat caucus will vote for more of Labour Lite, they will go for anyone but Collins, and continue to slide in the polls etc. Hopefully I am proved wrong, and I do suspect that when Peters is stand in PM, the public will not be amused. Three percent of the vote.


Gerrit said...

Disagree Kat. MMP is fast turning into a defacto First Past The Post system. NZFirst all but gone and the Greens on the cusp at 5%.

Will be back to a 2 party contest but under MMP rules when National finally give ACT the flick. (They need the Epsom seat and ACT list vote to comeback to them plus a healthy portion of the NZFirst ones as well).

If the Greens vote falls over (due to the it being a party for snowflakes not eco warriors) both Labour and National will promote even more green policies (Kermadecs for example) to try and woo the eco warrior vote.

The problem we have is no new party will enter the fray that can or will get over the 5% list vote or win an electoral seat.

Except for a potential Labour Maori caucus breakaway forming a new Maori focused political party (some NZFirst MP's could possibly join as well). Jumping point for the new Maori based party could well be water rights and ownership.

Much like the foreshore and seabed issue under Clark led to the creation of the Maori party.

It is the reason the waka jumping bill is so important to Peters.

Anonymous said...

Under the voting system used by the National Party, Mark Mitchell candidancy guarantees at least that the faction he repreents, will go through to at least the second round, in the form of Mark or Judith Collins.
Who are the National base or the National rank and file?

greywarbler said...

There seems to be concern that MMP interrupts stable government. Actually it is an attempt to grapple with the need to interfere with complacent government that promotes the idea of stability, while in physical examples of its reality allows imports of dodgy steel and erection of pus-filled houses that have driven people to suicide.

MMP is an attempt to get hands on the steering wheel of the ship sailing along like the Titanic where everyone is living it up with the crystal glasses clinking and the orchestra playing and nemesis ahead. A different course, and a closer watch out for hazards, was needed then and is needed now. And further than that sad disaster, is the meme that continues to discomfort the public that it was actually a result of an insurance scam.

Our uncertainty of the probity of financial and political leaders with proven examples regularly cropping up, is so discomforting that we cling to our presently understood culture, and make limits on new disturbing information and systems that should be faced and evaluated.

It's hard to get the complacent to move from their comfy chairs and their happy, even unhappy, everyday practices. Change and a personal audit of their place in the country, and of others and of themselves, which are the attitudes backing the policies of deliberate exclusion, poverty and deprivation, is uncomfortable mental exercise.

That is why we have so much effort going into training for marathons, mountain biking etc. Physical exercise as a replacement mental practice for the objective and searching thinking that should be a top priority for thinking people who believe they have good standards.

But what we do is say 'Get rid of MMP' - it is upsetting our idea of good politics, as we used to have back in the good old days! That's where we want to be, not looking at the future, and not doing anything about listening and acting to meet all people's present needs when we easily can.
As the old blues song says 'Do nothing till you hear from me, and you never will'!

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"That is why we have so much effort going into training for marathons, mountain biking etc. Physical exercise as a replacement mental practice for the objective and searching thinking that should be a top priority for thinking people who believe they have good standards."

Speak for yourself. I regard physical exercise as an AID to clear thinking. :)

greywarbler said...

Watch out that you don't lose concentration and fall off your mountain bike with your injuries piling up into ACC costs. Marathon running - reading about someone who says that she straightens out the world's problems as she trains and finds it is an aid to thinking. So keep it up, we might get a break-through from your cogitation.