The Second Time As Farce: National’s Election Campaign Falls Apart.


WHICH CAME FIRST, the Taxpayers’ Union’s campaign against the Wealth Tax, or the National Party’s “Stop the Wealth Tax Day”? My money’s on the Taxpayer’s Union. If the past week of the campaign has taught us anything, it’s that Judith Collins is making National’s campaign up as she goes along. I suspect she read, or someone summarized, Richard Harman’s Politik post on the Taxpayers’ Union’s direct mail shot. I can just see Collins’s eyebrows arching wickedly and hear her exclaim: “What a good idea!” Needless to say, she and her woefully inept campaign team then proceeded to cock the whole thing up.

If I’m wrong, however, and the whole exercise was, indeed, carefully planned in advance, then the Taxpayers’ Union’s mail-shot must have been timed to arrive in its targeted mailboxes just in time to underscore the media’s coverage of Collins’ “Stop The Wealth Tax Day” event. According to this script: just as the parties began their final dash for the finish-line, the voters were to be treated to a classic, last-minute, National Party demolition job.

There is actually at least one piece of evidence to support this theory. On the final “Politics” panel before the election, Trish Sherson and Neale Jones joined RNZ’s Kathryn Ryan, to discuss the state-of-play just five days out from polling-day. In the course of that discussion, Sherson told listeners that a letter explaining the impact of the Wealth Tax on her family’s future fortunes had turned up in her letter-box. Surely, this was the mail-shot exposed by Richard Harman in last Thursday’s Politik post?

So far, so good. On paper, this sequence does indeed have all the hallmarks of a potentially ruinous National Party hit. We have only to cast our minds back to Steven Joyce’s superbly-timed attack on Labour’s tax policy in the final weeks of the 2017 general election. In concert with his “There’s an $11 billion hole in Labour’s financial plan” assault on Grant Robertson’s economic competence, National’s attack on the Opposition’s proposed Capital Gains Tax delivered a devastating blow to Jacinda’s and Labour’s credibility.

Still, you must remember what Karl Marx had to say about history repeating itself? No? Well then, allow me to supply the quote:

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“Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.”

We could spend some time debating whether Stephen Joyce is, or ever was, a “world historical personage”, but what is not in doubt is that he was pretty damn good at running election campaigns. If Joyce had been master-minding the joint National Party/Taxpayers’ Union hit, then “Stop the Wealth Tax Day” would have set in motion a dangerous, hard-to-counter Opposition effort designed to strip 5 percentage points off the Labour Party at a point in the campaign when Labour is least equipped to mount an effective counter-attack.

But – and it’s a really, really big BUT – Joyce is not running National’s campaign. According to Politik’s editor, Richard Harman, Collins has become her own campaign manager. Now, as a lawyer, you might think that the Leader of the Opposition would be familiar with the old saying: “The lawyer who defends himself has a fool for a client.” Well the same applies, with bells on, to the management of election campaigns. What do you call the candidates who decide to manage their own campaign? That’s right, you call them losers. What looked like a truly tremendous plan of attack on paper, simply could not survive the fog of Judith.

The Ancient Greeks used to say that those whom the Gods sought to destroy they first made mad; these days they just make them incompetent. The degree to which National’s number-crunchers cocked-up the calculations at the core of their “Stop The Wealth Tax” Facebook post simply beggars belief. After all, these are the guys who never stop telling us that when it comes to number-crunching, National leaves Labour in its dust. And yet, when critiquing the Wealth Tax, the Nats’ not only failed comprehensively to get the numbers right, but were also, clearly, unable to grasp even the rudiments of the Greens’ proposed fiscal instrument. No wonder that, for just about the first time since the days of Roger Douglas, the “Business Community” prefers a Labour finance minister (Grant Robertson) to National’s economic spokesperson (Paul Goldsmith).

It was such a debacle that I almost (and that word, almost, needs to be stressed) felt sorry for the National Party. Their soldiers lifted up their rifles, took careful aim at their enemies, pulled their triggers, and discovered that the party’s armourers had failed to supply them with live rounds. The poor bastards were firing blanks!

I do not, however, feel the least bit sorry for the mainstream news media. What I’m actually feeling is anger and disgust. Richard Harman broke the story about the Taxpayers’ Union’s mail-shot early in the morning of Thursday, 9 October. With the honourable exception of The Daily Blog, it was studiously ignored. No one that I’m aware of thought to ask Judith Collins if she was aware of the Taxpayers’ Union’s plans. No one from RNZ picked-up on Sherson’s description of the letter she received over the weekend. The parallels between this attack and the similarly timed, and targeted, Exclusive Brethren attack of 2005 have been missed completely. Okay, it happened 15 years ago, but are we really expected to accept that today’s political journalists lack the capacity to link the events of the present with those of even the relatively recent past?

Obviously, the politicians don’t think so. Why else would the National front-bencher (once again, this information is sourced from Harman’s Politikwebsite) have leaked Denise Lee’s critical e-mail directly to the media? Waiting around for the modern gallery journalist to ferret out the level of dissatisfaction with Judith Collins in National’s caucus all by themselves is clearly regarded as a fool’s errand. When it comes to making sure the news media knows WTF’s going on, spoon-feeding would appear to be the order of the day!

We have already seen what has happened to the National Party, now that experienced players like Stephen Joyce are no longer in control of their election campaigns. It’s amateur night in Tory Town. But, God alone knows what will happen to the mainstream media’s ability to maintain a properly informed electorate when experienced professional journalists like Richard Harman finally retire. Democracy defeated both Nazism and Stalinism: whether or not it can survive the sheer incompetence of its contemporary practitioners and reporters, is an open question.



  1. That photo of Chucky epitomizes the image so many kiwis have of her. She looks like a wild dog that should be kept well away from children.

    She can smile all she likes, try and make jokes to break the awkward silences, farcically appear affable, trustworthy and relatable, call every alleged journalist by the first name whenever asked difficult questions, conjure up praying at a church, pretend she cares about anyone doing it hard etc etc etc etc etc etc etc, but the image in the photo captures the person huge numbers of kiwis recoil at.

  2. Well, Chris, I find your articles interesting but I have to say I think you are way off the mark when you write things like:

    ‘God alone knows what will happen to the mainstream media’s ability to maintain a properly informed electorate when experienced professional journalists like Richard Harman finally retire’

    ‘Democracy defeated both Nazism and Stalinism’

    because the purpose of the mainstream media is to keep the electorate uninformed or misinformed so that the utter nonsense that comprises politics in NZ can continue -the prime directive being don’t rock the boat (even if it is rapidly sinking.

    And democracy did not defeat both Nazism and Stalinism; the USSR defeated Nazism, with a little help from the USA and Britain; Stalinism was not defeated; Stalin simply died and that was why Stalinism ended.

    Much more to the point is the fact that whichever party forms the next NZ government or the core of the next government, the ongoing catastrophe which is the natural consequence of ineptitude and misinformation practiced and promoted by BY ALL POLITCAL PARTIES will continue along its inexorable path of making everything that matters WORSE. And the local media will continue to be cheerleaders for the destruction instead of putting a blowtorch on the bellies of the perpetrators of the insanity we endure.

    Whilst The Guardian has many faults, it does at least provide some reporting and analysis of things that really matter, unlike the local media, which is perpetually focused on trivial aspects of our march towards self-annihilation.

    From The Guardian:

    ‘Debarati Guha-Sapir of the centre for research on the epidemiology of disasters at the University of Louvain, Belgium, which provided data for the report, said: “If this level of growth in extreme weather events continues over the next 20 years, the future of mankind looks very bleak indeed.’

    (Well, the level of growth in extreme weather events WILL continue because the plan all politicians offer is more of the same: more use of fossil fuels, more life-threatening emissions, more degradation of natural systems etc.)

    ‘Fifth of countries at risk of ecosystem collapse, analysis finds’

    (Actually it’s not 1/5 countries at risk of ecosystem collapse, it’s 5/5. But The Guardian cannot report too dismally and completely take away false hope /)

    So yes, it (NZ politics) is a farce. All of it. And the blatant lies of ALL politicians and would-be politicians go unchallenged as a consequence of the incompetence or political bias of the media.

    The consequences of having the inept and the corrupt as leaders (not just in NZ but practically everywhere -just look at America under Trump, or Britain under Johnson, or France, or Spain or Brazil…..) and the consequences of the failure of the media to expose the ineptitude and corruption are already very bad and will very soon be utterly dire for everyone.

    • 100%
      United Nations: Earth on course to become ‘uninhabitable hell for millions.
      Continuing faith in politicians ability to do what is needed is misguided and delusional IMO.

  3. The fact that Collins has openly admitted that her only policy announcement is “to win the election ” tells us all we need to know. It confirms she has no direction, would create policy on the hoof if elected and we have no chance of knowing at what risk to the taxpayer/ voter. How are going to grow the economy and at whose expense? I can only assume Oravida would get a leg up across the border. Collins hypocrisy around trust holds no bounds but most intelligent people have known that for years.

  4. On the button there Chris.
    You said it all when you devolved that the taxpayers Union joined the RNZ Kathryn Ryan to espouse their vile. (my words)

    RNZ is a National Party stool Pigeon and ‘propaganda machine for the National Party policy’, so the grove fits doesn’t it”

    Labour must close down this ‘beehive of National Party use of a public radio service for their own political gain at our expense’.

      • @JF, yes, I do enjoy CT’s stories and history lessons after all the past informs the future and we all know the real Judeath so really no surprises the campaign is going badly because no one likes her. I’m just glad this time next week we will have a clearer idea who the nxt Govt could be.

  5. Judith’s next book should be a tell all titled “How not to run an Election Campaign”
    The Wealth Tax scare is a flop already and all that will do is drive more National voters to tick Labour
    Id said this many times the Nationals Campaign team (and the Tax payers Union) are like a boy dressing up in his fathers suit –trouser legs too long!!!
    Prediction 26-27% for National (Election) – but these punks deserve no more than 15%

    • ‘these punks deserve no more than 15%’

      Please explain why you think the incompetent fools and blatant liars that constitute National ‘deserve’ such a high level of support.

      I would have thought they deserve 0%, as per an examination candidate who doesn’t attempt to answer most of the questions and gets no correct answers for the few questions they do attempt to answer.

      0% or F on a scale A to F.

  6. The secret and covered-up Exclusive Brethren link-up. The proven lies of John Key. The “11 Billion dollar hole” allegation – proven false. The Boag/Muller/Walker/Woodhouse saga over the Covid quarantine. The racist shenanigans over the candidate selection for Auckland Central. The current, corrupt leader, Judith Collins. The deliberate misinformation predicting that Labour will take up the Green’s wealth tax, etc, etc, etc. When will the National Party finally rid itself of the enduring stain of Dirty Politics? Or has it become too habit-forming for them? Like you Chris, I also almost feel sorry for them for being mired in such a morass of ethical error. The party is like a primitive form of life that, somehow, refuses to evolve to any higher level.

  7. A vote for National is a wasted vote.

    Best vote for ACT – the only real alternative to National – PLUS – David Seymour can dance around the truth better than Judith can.

    Mike drop.

    • Yes… because the kind of political leadership we desperately need in these trying times is someone adept at ‘dancing around the truth’. Vote ACT — for benefit cuts, reductions to the minimum wage, interest on student loans, sucking up to gun-toting munters, and other failed draconian horseshit.

      Or just punch yourself in the face. You get to experience pain either way.

    • Trouble with ACT is they espouse the same lies today that Rogernomcs did during the late 1980’s to sell his ACT party economic policy using the “trickle down effect” to enrich the lower paid citizenry but after over 35yrs of using ‘Trickle down economics’ we now find that it was a ‘hoax’, so ACT needs to switch to better economic policy I say to; – ‘Andrew and Gosman supporter’.

      • You are all just jealous because David can wear a headband and the colour yellow while he dances around the truth and Judith and Jacinda can’t.

        PLUS, David’s name doesn’t begin with the letter J, which gives him a stark point of difference with the leaders of the so-called ‘major’ parties.

        A vote for ACT is a vote for ACTion against the namby-pamby, cradle-to-grave socialism that has infected and ruined this country. The sooner we sell off all govt. assets, and education, and health and remove benefits, the sooner we will see this country rise from the ashes of inACTion and take our place on the world stage again.

          • Argumentum ad Lupus WK, which is beneath you.

            I totally agree that Judeath is the wolf incarnate, but David is the under-maligned lupus in sheep’s clothing.

            He has hung around the political landscape like a virginal limpet, while the likes of serial asset-strippers like Roger Douglas, and Rodney Hyde and Don Brash and John Banks have stuffed Aotearoa and gone without a smile or a shudder, and not even a GST tip to the ferryman.

            ACT infiltrated Labour in 1982-84 then left when David Lange wanted to have a ‘cup of tea’. They hung around like syphilis around the groin of NZ politics for the last 34 years and even had a book called “I’ve been w@nking” or “I’ve been thinking”, or something of the sort.

            But, the trickle-down bullshit they were peddling on their barrow of lies over the last 36 years, got diluted with “Dancing with the Stars”, when Rodney dropped his partner (literally?) and even when David Seymour twerked in a yellow lycra onesie.

            But, it’s all a Kardashian and Trumpian smokescreen to hyde (sic) the neoliberal trickle-down bullshit behind a facade of faux-celebrity.

            Utter gobshite, utter bullshite and utter disregard lurking under the
            facade of “personal responsibility”, “user-pays” and let the market decide.

            Well David and ACT are just another phalanx of the dirty politics brigade of National, which includes New Conservative and Colin Craig and Billy TK/Jamie LR.

            ACT are arseholes of the lowest order. Let’s hope he gets 4.99% and the scourge of ACT, the dirty underbelly of National, will be gone forever form the NZ political scene. Either 2020, or 2023/24.

            Bye bye ACT.

  8. Dear afewknowthetruth: Your long comment is halfway interesting; but risks ridicule for blanket statements like “the local media will continue to be cheerleaders for the destruction” or “the blatant lies of ALL politicians.” Simply not true. It’s easy to find thoughtful New Zealand media – even if it does take some discretion. As for the latter, there are people of integrity who enter politics, and manage to keep that integrity intact, even while making difficult decisions; and New Zealand has a goodly share of them. Think Norman Kirk, Geoffrey Palmer, Andrew Little, Jeanette Fitzsimonds and our current Prime Minister as examples. Can we please have adult conversations about our politics, please?

    • Andrew Little!!!

      You have got to be joking!

      As detailed on several occasions on TDB, and speaking from knowing him personally and having many interactions with him, Andrew Little is an unreliable, untrustworthy, liar with a very nasty personality.

      Though Jacinda Adern does not have a nasty personality, she is a professional liar, which is why she gets flummoxed at times.

      If you believe what she says, you are in for a very rude awakening in the not-too-distant future..

  9. ” No wonder that, for just about the first time since the days of Roger Douglas, the “Business Community” prefers a Labour finance minister (Grant Robertson) to National’s economic spokesperson (Paul Goldsmith) ”
    When the business community backs a Labour minister of finance you know that there is no way in hell the NZLP resembles anything close to what it was formed for in the first place and shows exactly what its priorities aren’t supporting real working people and the vulnerable.
    The business community always has a buck on each horse depending on the odds and the track.
    Give it six months and they will be flocking to support the next best thing Mr Luxon with the adulation of the MSM with their vomit inducing coverage.

  10. ” I do not, however, feel the least bit sorry for the mainstream news media. What I’m actually feeling is anger and disgust. Richard Harman broke the story about the Taxpayers’ Union’s mail-shot early in the morning of Thursday, 9 October. With the honourable exception of The Daily Blog, it was studiously ignored ”
    Yes and TVNZ One have led each story about the election campaign with you guessed it Judith Collins who if i am not mistaken is not the current PM or is even in government not that you would notice.
    I am convinced that National sympathisers are in positions of authority in our state owned enterprise and bow to the pressure of National and its powerful interests. Public factual unbiased news coverage means squat !!!
    They run this country even when they are not in government.
    Even their leading political editor Much McKay could not hide her sympathies when during an interview after the 2017 election Jacinda and Kelvin dared to criticize Bill Englishes government with her remark isn’t that unfair to the National party !!!
    I made a complaint to TVNZ that it breached TVNZ ‘s own standards but my complaint was not upheld.
    With so much control i am surprised we ever have a change of government and if it had not been for a life threatening pandemic we could well have ended up with Bridges and his colleagues in serious contention at this election.


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