National Party clearly needs to do more than just scavenge upon seemingly non-existent issues and come up with radical new ideas and alternative vision, if any, to lead the nation on the path of economic recovery, and that too pretty quickly, if it has to have any real chance in the forthcoming elections.
If there is anything that can stem the exodus of voters from the National Party, it will be big alternative ideas and vision, and not the usual approach of trying to corner the government on procedural issues even if it appears seemingly incoherent or simply not right for being an overreach of state authority on the Kiwi way of life.
The party’s latest attempted howl at the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led government for failing to prevent flouting of social distance rules during the Black Lives Matter solidarity march in Auckland held under Alert Level 2, has once again proved, at best, another whimper.
Anyway, to corner Prime Minister Ardern - who is a sweet combination of immaculate communication skills and an amazingly disarming personality that allows her to come out of any situation almost unscathed - is not an easy task and National should have learned by now.
In most cases it is her detractors, either domestically or internationally, though sparingly rare, who are eventually roasted by a disapproving public.
Indulging time and again in this seemingly futile exercise, under any pretext of playing a sincere role of opposition and demanding accountability is not politically sagacious, if not altogether futile exercise, and no one else other than Simon Bridges would vouch for this hard-learned political lesson.
It seems that National’s new leadership is in no way remarkably different from the previous leader Simon Bridges, who at least had more conviction in his combative manoeuvres, though without many takers within political observers and the general public, alike.
The party seems to be continuing to the same old trodden path as pursued in the last two months which witnessed many such similar attempted howls at the government that ultimately led to disastrous mayhem of their vote share in two successive polls and eventually leading to a change of leadership.
Surprisingly though, the government has always been successful in either reacting quickly and making amends if needed, or making progress on its stated plan, without giving anything away to the opposition and keeping it's hard and rightly earned goodwill for its management of covid-19 health pandemic - intact.
Be it Opposition’s incessant calls for moving New Zealand quickly out of lockdown to alert level 3 and subsequently to alert level 2, or questioning the legal framework of the policy of lockdown the government has been able to either make amends or make progress without giving anything away to the opposition, and their voices have remained - noise, which at best times can be considered annoying.
The alacrity with which National Party sought to corner the government on the issue of flouting of social distancing rules under Alert Level 2, more specifically at the Black Lives Matter solidarity march, clearly shows that neither the Party has learned much from their folly of the last two months, nor the new leadership has imparted any new vision and direction to the Party.
While this piece is not a commentary on National Party’s new leadership’s performance in the first couple of weeks, it illustrates the fact that the new leadership team has still not fully grasped the enormity of the task ahead of dealing with the formidable adversary in a historically popular Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's popularity has soared to exceptionally high-level after onset of Covid-19 pandemic- Photo Courtesy- Samuel Rilstone, RNZ
Make no mistake, flouting of social distancing rules under the current Alert level 2 is a real issue, and the government is indeed struggling to cope with, however, that does not give the opposition National Party any luxury to scavenge upon the issue.
By continuing on the same path of trying to point towards the government’s, and by logic Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s seeming inadequacy, the National Party has witnessed a merciless cull of its votes that has remained largely intact in almost two decades.
Ever since the change of leadership, and as promised by the new leader Todd Muller, it was expected that the Party will come out wiser, armed with some divinely new insight or vision of dealing with Jacinda Ardern led government.
So far it seems there is nothing much radically different than under National’s previous leadership, at least in terms of demonstrating political judgement on issues that matter to New Zealanders.
The public approval for this government’s response to Covid-19 public health pandemic is exceptionally high that refuses to be otherwise affected by any real or perceived incoherence or shortcoming.
And National, in continuing to attack the government on those real or perceived shortcomings is actually flogging the dead horse.
Time is running fast and the National Party will need to quickly reinvent itself and come up with some new and meaningful ideas and vision to offer to New Zealanders.