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Heather du Plessis-Allan: People love Luxon because he's not Ardern

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 8 Feb 2022, 7:11PM
 (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
(Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: People love Luxon because he's not Ardern

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 8 Feb 2022, 7:11PM

Senior writer Simon Wilson posed an interesting question in the herald today.  

The headline of his column was this: Why so much Luxon love when he hasn't done anything yet?  

The Luxon love that Simon is talking about is the big jump up in Luxon's polling. Luxon's shot straight in at 20, 18, 17, and 17.8 in the preferred PM numbers in the last four public polls. 

Simon writes: “Enough with the Luxon love. Has he done anything yet to deserve it? Luxon gets so much admiration beamed his way, you'd think he'd already transformed his party and its policies.”  

Simon makes the point that Luxon’s only been in the job 10 weeks which “does suggest the current wave of praise is premature. Luxon hasn't done the work yet.”  

Simon makes a fair point. Luxon hasn’t done much. In fact, he’s made a lot of little mistakes in his 10 weeks in the job. 

The party’s gone hard on the need to end MIQ now, then dropped the now bit once omicron arrived. He lost his speech notes in his first appearance in parliament. And last Tuesday, he called for twice weekly rapid covid tests for every school child without knowing how many school children there are. 

None of those mistakes are consequential but they suggest he’s still very much got his political training wheels on. 

So, “Why so much Luxon love when he hasn't done anything yet?” 

I think we can answer that question. 

Because he’s not Jacinda Ardern.  

If we learned anything from the recent set of polls it’s that the PM is becoming increasingly polarizing. 

She’s personally lost twice as much support since the election as Labour, according to the 1 news kantar poll. 

Her approvals have fallen from positive 55% at the election to positive 15%. 

While last night’s Newshub Reid Research poll still had her in the mid-forties, it is a lot higher than the recent 1 News Kantar poll and Taxpayers Union Curia poll which both had her in the 30s, and the trend down since the election is consistent across all three polls, even if the scale varies. 

So, while a lot of people still love Jacinda Ardern, a lot of people are turning off her in frustration and looking for an alternative PM. 

And as leader of the National Party, Luxon is the only real alternative. 

And finally, he’s a credible alternative after the shambles of Muller and Collins.  

To be in the running to be the PM, he’ll need to lift his polling a lot more. 

But he probably doesn’t have to do that much other than just not stuff it up badly. 

I’m not sure he needs to have amazing policy or show incredible charisma, he just has to be not Jacinda, and he’ll become increasingly attractive to a lot of voters frustrated at her. 

As they say, oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. 

The same might be true of Prime Ministers and the contenders for their jobs.    

Sometimes just not being the PM is enough to be a real contender to become the PM. 

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