Saturday, June 10, 2006

National's volatile leadership

David Farrar's sadly muted company of malcontents are debating the prospect of changes to Labour's leadership team. This little head-fake is designed to divert attention from the mounting pressure on Brash and Brownlee.

The simple point is that Labour has had strong and very stable leadership since 1993. Firstly Helen Clark and David Caygill, and then Helen and Michael Cullen. Over this same period, National have had 4 leaders (Bolger, Shipley, English and Brash) and even more deputies (McKinnon, Creech, Sowry, Brash himself, Nick Smith and now Brownlee).

When Brash and Brownlee are replaced, as they must surely be for National to be even vaguely competitive in 2008, whomever replaces them will be the fifth and eighth leader and deputy respectively.

13 comments:

David Farrar said...

Sigh Paul - you really need to be less partisan. The reason I blogged on Labour leadership is because the NZ Herald did a story on it. Don't be so hyper-sensitive.

And you may not read many NZ newspapers in Aussie, but speculation on Cullen is very common - partly sparked by Helen herself.

And Brash was never Deputy Leader.

Plus as I noted on my blog, National is significantly ahead of Labour since the budget. Sure that may change, but your timing stinks at pushing the National leadership issue.

backin15 said...

David, less partisan - you first :)

I read the online version but might have missed something? I thought Brash had been deputy but was living in Australia - on reflection, was it Sowry? Nevertheless if Cullen goes, it'll be managed and Helen and other senior members will not allow a messy handover. I'd like to think Caygill and Cullen showed how it could be done when it could have gone very badly.

Re the poll position, I don't think too much should be made of this. Agreed most moves are premised on poor poll results but National need to do something different and perhaps moving against the cycle (or rather with it) is what's needed.

proud2bkiwi said...

My money is on both Clark and Cullen outlasting Brash any day. There is no desire in the Labour caucus to change either. Clark has a rock solid position as leader and will win Labour a fourth term. Cullen is the go to guy for most of the caucus, and is an able and competent deputy to Clark who has the respect of both sides of the House (whatever they may be saying now).

I can understand why National and certain members of the gallery are keen to put the hatchet into Cullen. He's one of the keys to the Labour Party's success in government and if they really want to see a National govt back in office at any time in the next 5 years or so they have to get rid of him.

But in reality history will show Cullen as one of our most successful Ministers of Finance. Let's not forget that the last Minister of Finance to last as long as him (Muldoon) wrecked the NZ economy. Cullen, by contrast, has the economy in good shape.

And claims that Labour has enjoyed an economic boom just because of good timing are also rubbish. The economy was far from in good shape when Labour took office, and we only need to look to the US to see how quickly bad political management can send an economy down the toilet...

So Cullen deserves a break. He's done a very able and competent job the last 7 years, and for the sake of all kiwis, I hope he gets a chance to keep doing it for at least 3 or 4 more years. Then we would really see the benefit of a sustained period of good financial management...

Rob Salmond said...

So David wonders why National would replace a leader whose just taken the lead in the polls. Here's why: While Dr Brash has had a few moments of good performance between elections, he is no good **during election campaigns**, and 2008 looks likely to be close so National will need a good campaigner at the helm. I think the only way for Brash to secure his position as leader through until the election is to significantly up his game in the House, which is the closest inter-election setting to a campaign environment. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for Mssrs Key, English, Power, etc, he shows no signs of interest or improvement in the House. Despite the current poll lead, he will be gone before the next election.

backin15 said...

proud2bkiwi: agreed, Brash looks very vulnerable and perhaps only saved for the moment because of the poll results. I also agree that Cullen's time as Finance Minister will be well judged.

Rob: exactly! Brash's performance during the election campaign could well have cost them the treasury benches and his parliamentary performance is average. He deserves credit for resurrecting the party after the disasterous 2002 result but is he really the man for 08?

proud2bkiwi said...

What's more, Brash has actually been trying in the House! He has asked more questions this year than ever before, but nobody has noticed. English is still leading the National charge against the government, proving that so far the remnants of the 'brat pack' are still the best ones at running issues. Brownlee is all bluster and no substance, while Key lacks the ability to think on his feet to the same extent as English.

proud2bkiwi said...

What's more, Brash has actually been trying in the House! He has asked more questions this year than ever before, but nobody has noticed. English is still leading the National charge against the government, proving that so far the remnants of the 'brat pack' are still the best ones at running issues. Brownlee is all bluster and no substance, while Key lacks the ability to think on his feet to the same extent as English.

proud2bkiwi said...

What's more, Brash has actually been trying in the House! He has asked more questions this year than ever before, but nobody has noticed. English is still leading the National charge against the government, proving that so far the remnants of the 'brat pack' are still the best ones at running issues. Brownlee is all bluster and no substance, while Key lacks the ability to think on his feet to the same extent as English.

proud2bkiwi said...

What's more, Brash has actually been trying in the House! He has asked more questions this year than ever before, but nobody has noticed. English is still leading the National charge against the government, proving that so far the remnants of the 'brat pack' are still the best ones at running issues. Brownlee is all bluster and no substance, while Key lacks the ability to think on his feet to the same extent as English.

proud2bkiwi said...

What's worse is that Brash has actually been trying in the House! He has asked more questions than ever before, but nobody has noticed because he is wooden and sticks to a pre-determined script. English and the remnants of the 'brat pack' are still the ones doing all the running in the House, they can actually get an issue up and keep it going. Were it not for the baggage of his last stint as leader, English would be odds-on favourite to replace Brash, no question about it!

backin15 said...

p2bk: completely agree, English is better placed having learned a lot both as a failed leader and previously as a minister. Brash doesn't cope well in the House and despite its limited relevance to the broader populace, if you can't cut it in the House, you'll struggle in politics fullstop.

How's Nick Smith going - he was more miss than hit in my time closely following NZ politics?

proud2bkiwi said...

Sorry about the multiple posts! Slow internet connection! Smith is the weaker of the brat pack. English and Ryall are the Nats best performers. Rich is under-rated, largely because she is so moderate. Rich would/will make a superb deputy leader...

backin15 said...

Ryall's doing well, that's interesting, he'd gone missing for such a long time I'd expected his retirement? English is certainly much improved since being relieved of the leadership although I think too much of his focus in education is on marginal issues.

Is Rich electable as a deputy? Does she have caucus backing? It's too hard to tell from here. I'm interested to hear what you think.