• Seymour and Collins

    The Herald continues to hitch its wagon to David Seymour’s coat-tails. They don’t seem to realise that Seymour is almost entirely an (inadvertent) creation of Judith Collins.

    If it weren’t for the fact that Collins is performing so badly as National leader, Seymour would not be noticed. For those interested in arithmetic, his rise in the polls is almost exactly the mirror image of Collins’ decline.

    There is little evidence, in other words, that Seymour is doing anything to increase the total right-wing vote; such support as he is gaining is won at National’s expense.

    Whether the right as a whole might do better under Seymour’s rather than Collins’ leadership is perhaps debatable. For what it’s worth, I am not convinced. For every right-wing voter who might return to the National fold if someone – anyone – other than Colllns were leader, another would leave, discomforted by Seymour’s far-right position and beliefs.

    The Herald may need to think again.

    Bryan Gould
    16 September 2021

  • Talking Up David Seymour

    There is no sign in recent issues of the Herald that it has abandoned in any way its underlying strategy and goal of undermining the government in the hope that it can be replaced at the next election by a National government. So why has the Herald continued to blow wind into David Seymour’s sails, as it has again done this week?

    On one reading, it is further evidence that the Herald has lost confidence in Judith Collins and does not believe that she can lead National to victory. Talking up David Seymour is, on this analysis, just another stick with which to beat her and to hasten the day, they hope, when National MPs decide they have had enough and decide to elect a new leader.

    There is another interpretation, however. The Herald’s ambitions may not be limited to getting a National government; they may want to be sure that such a government will not be, in their terms, “wishy-washy”. They may want to be sure that the National victory they seek will bring to power a government that is genuinely and unmistakably right-wing.

    Talking up David Seymour, however improbably, as a potential Prime Minister, would then serve a different purpose. It would act as a kind of spur or goad to National MPs, especially those with leadership ambitions; it would signal to them that they could not expect any endorsement from the Herald unless they could demonstrate far-right credentials to match those of David Seymour.

    Seymour leads an Act party which, despite the proclaimed success of its leader, remains limited in its numerical support – and that is not surprising; there, is on all the evidence – historical and other – a limited appetite in New Zealand for parties of the far, or “libertarian”, right.

    If Seymour were able to take those “libertarian” views into mainstream politics, the political scene in our country would change substantially, and for the worse. A National party that was either led by Seymour or subsumed into a wider coalition led by Seymour would inevitably lose its foundation character as an alliance of economic conservatism and social liberalism – and it is hard to see how that would serve the purposes of the Herald or the interests of the country.

    Bryan Gould
    14 September 2021

  • Bile and Hostility

    Mike Hosking is a professional journalist and, as such, he presumably wants to be read – and not only read, but taken seriously and believed.

    It is surprising, therefore, that he seems not to have grasped a basic principle – that someone whose every utterance is obviously coloured by an ever-present prejudice and ulterior motive will find that his opinions are eventually discounted, on the ground that they reflect his undeclared prejudice and motive rather than any attempt at a proper analysis of the subject at issue.

    Those who can bring themselves to read his offerings will recognise the point I am making. Whenever he comments on the government’s handling of the pandemic (or any other government policy or action), it is immediately apparent that his first purpose is to express his dislike (verging on hatred) of the government and determination to undermine both its efforts and its continued existence.

    Not surprisingly, his readers are not slow to pick up on this. They will accordingly dismiss his attacks as par for a very familiar course – and they will conclude that they do not need yet another demonstration of what they know already, that Mr Hosking doesn’t like our current government very much.

    Sadly, a number of regular “commenters” in the Herald’s pages seem to be afflicted with the same disease. What they offer us is far from reasoned and dispassionate analysis but, rather, a blast of bile and hostility directed at the government. As a consequence, we learn more about them than about the government.

    Bryan Gould
    9 September 2021

  • A Grim Future for National

    Judith Collins must now know that the game is up. The Herald has decided that she must go – and the Herald can always be relied on to reflect the view of the National party.

    The signs are now coming thick and fast – and they are unmistakable. The latest issue contains pieces by two of their most experienced journalists – and both Clare Trevett and Fran O’Sullivan make no bones about their conviction that Judith Collins’ recent mistakes and false steps mean that her fate is sealed.

    Their prediction seems to be that Collins will be rolled by Simon Bridges; and that almost certainly means that the Herald has given away the next election, since there is no reason to expect the voters to be any more impressed by Bridges than they were last time.

    The scenario they apparently see unrolling is that Bridges will replace Collins and lead National to yet another election defeat, whereupon there will be yet another leadership coup, which will bring forward the untested Christopher Luxon, supported by one of the “young Turks” as his deputy.

    We have to conclude that things have reached a pretty pass when such a despondent future for the National party is laid out for it by its principal supporter and confidant. Ah well.

    Bryan Gould
    4 September 2021

  • Prime Ministerial?

    Most people seem to think that politicians are a species apart, and they do not understand that politicians are just people like the rest of us. They share the same sentiments and prejudices, the same strengths and weaknesses. In any given situation, if we were to feel downcast or elated, disappointed or satisfied, so too would politicians.

    A case in point is David Seymour, the Act leader. He made his name (such as it is) as the “cheeky chappy” of New Zealand politics, (although, to be fair, he also earned kudos for his work on the euthanasia issue), but he then discovered that he rated above Judith Collins in the preferred Prime Minister stakes – (which you may not think is much of an achievement) – but it has rather gone to his head.

    We now see a David Seymour who seems to feel obliged, if he is to justify his new-found status, to come up with a snappy phrase or dig at the government – or to appear Prime Ministerial – on a twice-weekly basis; it may take him a little time to realise that this serves merely to make him seem even more lacking in the necessary gravitas than may be the case. Even politicians cannot defy harsh reality.

    Bryan Gould
    2 September 2021