So first things first, sorry I haven’t posted since August. I’ve been trying to detox myself from political shitposting (blogging*) since the emotional roller coaster that was the US General Election (watching Florida was like watching the red wedding on steroids). I figured I’d get back into the swing of things by plunging into the resignation of blokelord John Key.
“My question is to the Prime Mincer” ~ A timeless classic from Trevor Mallard.
Why Bill though?
On the 12th of December, New Zealand was greeted by our newly elected (except not really) Prime Minister, Bill English. Who, for all intents and purposes, is known best for having the personality of a dishcloth. Following this, New Zealand was also blessed to endure the announcement of Paula ‘zip it sweetie’ Bennett as Deputy. Bennett is someone we wish had the personality of a dishcloth.
Aside from a crippling lack of charisma, Bill’s last 8 years has actually generated a large amount of respect by many for being a relatively decent Minister of Finance. For the last two years, Bill turned two surpluses above GDP that are looking to steadily increase. The budgets did see a large dip in 2009 to 2014 however in Bill’s defence, there was a global financial crisis taking place. The stability of New Zealand’s GDP under Bill’s watch is also something to be admired.
Find a man who will look at you the way Bill looks at his budget.
Given that Bill is often considered to be the policy powerhouse of the National Government, we shouldn’t really expect sweeping change. It’s interesting to question whether the National strategy of pro-foreign investment has a place in the new Trump era world, especially now that the TPPA has fallen flat (don’t get me started). Based on this, the decision for caucus to push Bill for PM makes sense, especially after the glowing recommendation from John Key during his resignation speech.
I personally feel however that Bill is more a right hand man in politics that may not be suited for leadership. Bill’s industrious reputation worked very well with John’s laid back attitude allowing the two of them to act as this dynamic duo who could, on one side, appeal to the every day kiwi bloke, and on the other side, get things done.
Where does Paula fit into this?
I see no reality where Bill and Paula appear as personable as Bill and John. I can understand the decision to contrast the candidates, a Rich White Southland landowner couldn’t get much further from a West Auckland Maori woman who had a child at age 17. National’s strategy appears to appeal to the widest possible spectrum of New Zealanders. The issue is, I don’t believe Paula Bennett even remotely appeals to the demographic she once belonged to.
Paula Bennett’s history as Minister for Social Development was controversial at best. She faced issues after her abolition of the Training Incentive Allowance, a benefit Paula herself utilised to get where she is today. When criticised on this, Paula decided to leak welfare information about two complainants who went to the media about how they were impacted by her actions. Due to her performance as Minister of Social Development and her “there is no crisis” approach to Auckland housing, Paula Bennett has nullified her past and become just as out of touch with struggling kiwis as every other National MP.
Paula Bennett thinking about all the poor people she can screw over now that she’s Deputy PM, probably
Does this mean Andrew Little for next PM?
Honestly, it’s far too early to tell. If you’d asked me six months ago whether or not I thought this would take place I’d have launched right in with a prediction. Now we live in a world where Trump got elected, anything is possible.
What we can expect to see is a likely drop in National’s polling due to uncertainty. I think it’s unlikely that will correlate to an increase for Labour or Greens, instead the number of undecided voters will increase. All things considered it has sincerely increased Andrew Little’s chances for the election next year. This is because of personality.
Andrew Little was always going to struggle in an election against John Key because, similar to Bill English, Andrew Little has little to no charisma. As a result, next year’s election will likely turn into the Battle of the Boring™. A very serious flow-on effect from this is that voters uninspired by Little or English could turn to suitably charismatic alternative candidates, namely Winston Peters. *shudders*
Perhaps if Andrew Little stops repeatedly responding to every question with “Housing Crisis!” he could pull it in.
When it’s been 25 seconds and you haven’t mentioned the housing crisis.
I’ll finish with a small prediction that I don’t believe Bill will last very long. He doesn’t have the appeal that John Key does and if National are to remain in government, they’ll likely have to do so with NZ First as a coalition. As a result, you’ll probably have an internal squabble to maintain government for the following election with the belief that Bill only just won in 2017. Bill English would likely end up in the same position Malcolm Turnbull is in Australia at the moment, with factions within his own party plotting his demise.