Thursday, December 22, 2016
The latest Roy Morgan poll showing a 4.5 per cent fall in the National Party support in December just around when Prime Minister John Key resigned has precipitated a need to do a quick check on the report card of new Prime Minister Bill English.
Apparently, a perception has been created that this poll is a reflection of Mr English’s leadership of the National Party and the Government, which needs to be argued.
The poll shows that support for the National Party fell to 45 per cent at the start of December and support for a Labour/Green alliance is up to 43 per cent and an election held now would have a close result.
Although, it is not clear from this poll that it is a reflection on Mr English’s leadership of the Party and the government.
Presumably it is more a reflection of the anxious transition phase from Mr Key’s exit to the lead up to the election of the new leader, but certainly, cannot be attributed to Mr English.
The poll was conducted between November 28 and December 11 and Mr English officially assumed charge on Monday, December 12.
However, the arrival of this poll has necessitated doing a quick review of Mr English’s report card.
Leadership transition was a big challenge for the National Party, especially coming after a self-motivated retirement declaration by a successful and popular leader like John Key.
In that test, National Party has done well in amicably transitioning to a new leadership team.
Otherwise, in most cases, such unprovoked succession plans can experience hidden leadership ambitions coming out in open which can be damaging for any Party.
If an assessment is in order for Mr English for the period starting from December 12 till now, then maximum attention will be drawn on his political dexterity demonstrated during the latest cabinet reshuffle.
The cabinet reshuffle has a clear stamp of Mr English’s personality where competence was slightly favoured over charisma in allocating ministerial positions – a reflection of his competent performance of managing nation’s books within John Key charismatic leadership.
Not only a few backbenchers in caucus were given a cabinet position, but also some first timer like Alfred Ngaro was given a direct entry into the cabinet, thus suggesting that the new leadership is not restricted by any conventions.
Talking about restrictions and conventions that can potentially limit a government’s potential to cater for the needs of its people reminds about Mr English’s candid statement about “same-sex marriage.”
This U-turn statement just before becoming the new prime minister of the country also fetches some merit points.
Likewise, another area where the new government has got it right and unexpectedly, though, is in improving the gender balance in the cabinet, if not getting it right to a level as many would expect.
Currently, a third of the Cabinet now made up of women with country’s second ever women Deputy Prime Minister.
Not a bad place to be in for a National government.
However not everything was according to the script as Mr English choose to do an “Andrew Little” to the media where he chose to be ignorant of what feminism means.
Mr Little had chosen to be stubborn sometime back when claimed ignorance about what centre of politics means.
Nevertheless, Mr English is expecting some help on hand this Christmas as a publishing house Harper Collins have promptly dispatched a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists.
Hopefully, our Prime Minister will do some reading this Christmas.
Apart from that, so far Mr English had a great run to the Christmas and New Year holidays and deserves thumbs up rather than thumbs down.