Renewed confidence puts National back on the track

Renewed confidence puts National back on the track

Simon Bridges launches our Electionlink Pages for the Party

Venkat Raman
Auckland, July 29, 2020

Simon Bridges, David Carter (Left) Mark Mitchell, Rima Nakhle and others hold the Victory Sign after the launch

Ten Members of Parliament belonging to the National Party including former Ministers Simon Bridges, Mark Mitchell, Alfred Ngaro, Tim Macindoe and David Carter (who was also Speaker of the House); Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar, Simeon Brown, Chris Penk, Paulo Garcia were among our guests at the launch of the Party’s Electionlink pages this week.

The event, held on Monday, July 29, 2020 at Mahatma Gandhi Centre in Auckland Central also had the presence of seven new Candidates from various constituencies in the City. Among them were Christopher Luxon, Rima Nakhle, Jake Bezzant, Lisa Whyte, Nuwi Samarakone, Simon Watts and Bala Beeram.

Party President Peter Goodfellow, Directors Alastair Bell and Andrew Hunt of the National Party Board were also a part of the programme, applauding their MPs and candidates.

The Electionlink launch was sponsored by Auckland Indian Association, Universal Granite Limited, Worldwide Enterprises and Bala Beeram.

This was the first time in the 18-year history of Electionlink that the Leader of the National Party was not present at the event,

A similar launch was held for the Labour Party at the same venue on Monday, July 23, 2020.

A report on this event can be read here.

Judith Collins upbeat

National Party Leader Judith Collins is upbeat about the general election scheduled to be held on Saturday, September 19, 2020 saying that National will form the next government, but she is beset with a series of challenges that can prove to be formidable.

Ms Collins is a stern, no-nonsense leader, who has proved her mettle as a Minister of the Crown holding a wide range of portfolios- 14 of them- during the John Key and Bill English governments between 2008 and 2017.

Soon after being elected Leader of the Party on July 14, 2020, she dealt with decisiveness the indiscretions of two members of her Caucus- sacking one and demoting the other. She still has faces a number of issues, not the least of which is to ensure discipline within the ranks of her parliamentary colleagues at least over the next seven weeks.

With the past two opinion polls showing National under poor light, Ms Collins has the task of getting her Party back on track with sound policies and programmes. Mere rhetoric would not go any good.

The glasshouse effects

The exit of Todd Muller as the Leader of the National Party had a rippling effect among politicians, National Party caucus and the media, but the hoo-ha died down as quickly as it rose; in fact, it was so short-lived that it went almost unnoticed. Ms Collins was perhaps a candidate of convenience and an antidote to the smote that National had suffered. She was in effect the instrument of painless change, orchestrating a move which could have otherwise caused ruptures.

Clearly, the Nats cannot afford another division.

New National Party candidates from various constituencies in Auckland Nuwi Samarakone, Jake Bezzant, Lisa Whyte, Simon Watts, Bala Beeram, Rima Nakhle and Christopher Luxon.

For all the smear campaigns that he suffered during the last days in office, Mr Muller may not have been directly responsible for the implosion, but some of his own colleagues in the National Caucus did things that were unforgivable. Leaking names of Covid-19 patients to the media and scaremongering the public with unsubstantiated accusations were distasteful.

Even as people were worried about their own health and the risk of Covid-19 spreading, the National Party leadership and some MPs have been taking cudgels against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the government for their translucency, without realising the glasshouse effect.

Holding the government to account

They were too willing to have a go at all their political opponents, interrogating their honesty and integrity, without realising that they may one day be ensnared in their own words.

But arguably, it is the opposition’s call to keep the government under check and pressure, giving the ministers a run for their policies and even the money that they earn.

The Nats have done their job well on that score; but in terms of enunciating policies and programmes and readiness to take over the mantle of governance should there be a need, they have thus far failed to impress.

Although thrillingly effective in the gladiatorial arena of the debating chamber in Parliament and, from Collins’ point of view, a welcome endorsement of her leadership credentials, Mr Muller’s imagery seemed less well-judged during his short tenure.

Two tough Leaders

Ms Ardern has earned the love and admiration of a majority of New Zealanders for her empathy and quick actions following the Christchurch massacre on March 15, 2019, the Whakaari-White Island eruption on December 9, 2019 and Covid-19 thus far this year. She has also shown her toughness in the handling of a number of erring Ministers of her Cabinet, more recently in the exit of Dr David Clark (Health) and Iain Lees-Galloway (Workplace Relations & Safety).

Ms Collins is also an Iron Lady and her non-nonsense approach was seen even during her early years as Minister of Corrections (2009), Police and later in other ministries.

If people are tired of the incumbent government and need a change, they must be given adequate reasons for exercising their franchise in favour of the National Party.

Inclusive Politics

More, the Party would have to come out of its restrictive approach and embrace minority communities as well.

There are wider issues to discuss, which this newspaper would do in course of time.

The launch of Electionlink signals the beginning of the battle for the ballot.

But Ms Collins would like to call it a War over Labour and its allies.

Just how the situation would pan out remains to be seen.

But we know one thing for sure; Election 2020 would continue to be wordy, nasty, and even personal, just as it has been over the past few elections.

We would ask the parties involved to exercise restraint and concentrate on issues of concern to New Zealanders.

Pictures for Indian Newslink by Narendra Bedekar

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