Monday, 4 December 2006

National Train to Lurch to the Left?

With John Key replacing Don Brash as leader of the NZ National Party, most pundits are expecting the party to gradually reposition itself further to "the middle" of the political spectrum.

Key's new "shadow cabinet" certainly has a lot of ability, and some fresh faces in key portfolios. Katherine Rich returns to a meaty portfolio with Education, while Tau Henare should partner well with Georgina Te Heuheu to give National a bit of grunt in Maori Affairs.

However, it will be interesting to see how much National tries to fight Labour with big spending promises in major areas like Health, Welfare, and Education.

While the National Party does have a history of being more "right of centre", it's not well known for its ability to curb spending, or opening the way for more freedom and individual responsibility.
However, it is positive to note that John Key seems to have accepted that the National Party is unlikely to ever govern alone as long as New Zealand has MMP, and wants to foster better links with the minor parties. One hopes Messers Brownlee and McCully got the memo.

The final weeks in the political career of Don Brash must have been pretty tough. After the 2002 election, where National won just 21% of the vote, some commentators even wondered whether the party would still be a seen as a major force. Don Brash helped rebuild the party and its support, very nearly leading National to victory on the back of a campaign to cut taxes.
However, I've got to say I've yet to be shocked by any of the allegations or alleged emails in Nicky Hager's book (apparently big business supports National - and the Unions support Labour)... unlike those v-dodgy sounding allegations about Panty slut-boy in the Investigate: Online article. (Not quite the behaviour one expects of a Minister in charge of Child, Youth and Family.)

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