Mike Hosking: National needs to avoid over-reacting to election loss

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 20 Oct 2020, 8:49PM
National leader Judith Collins leading their MPs into the press conference after their caucus meeting at Parliament, Wellington. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)
National leader Judith Collins leading their MPs into the press conference after their caucus meeting at Parliament, Wellington. (Photo / Mark Mitchell)

Mike Hosking: National needs to avoid over-reacting to election loss

Author
Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tue, 20 Oct 2020, 8:49PM

The trouble with trouble is you can easily over analysis it.  

National gathered today for what will be a forlorn old caucus meeting. They’ll have picked over the entrails as to just what went wrong.

And the risk they run right now is to fail to grasp, although some things unquestionably went wrong, the stuff that did go wrong wasn’t responsible for a Labour landslide.

It’s safe-ish to say, even if things went really right, Labour most likely still would have won.

Why? Because Covid is a pandemic, and the government of the day didn’t cock it up and in such matters and it doesn’t have to be a pandemic but in times of trouble, we have a flight to safety, we are adverse to risk.

That’s why presidents become popular in wars. Look at Churchill or Bush Senior. History is full of examples.

History also shows us, first term governments by in large get a second term.

So the trick, if you’re on the losing side, is not to over react, not to change for the sake of changing, and to step back and see the big picture.

Life whether political or otherwise, has seasons. Labour got lucky with Covid, it saved them. No Covid, you would have had a real race.

Labour was polling poorly, delivery was an issue, and the economy was slowing. Post Covid, all that stuff got tossed out the window, Saint Jacinda arrived, and we loved it - game over.

The bits National can do better on are internal. They seem self-absorbed, the leaking is pathetic, the self-interest is obvious, the factionalism is a problem. If they’d sorted that, Act would not have polled so well for example.

But 2002 for National is a lesson, and a reminder, that bad days, bad seasons, bad periods are part of political life, but they don’t last.

Tumult is part of the equation. Labour was brilliant in 1984, by 1990 they were a mess. The Clark government of ‘99 was not the Clark of 05 and so it goes.

Mitigating circumstances, things beyond your control, are always present. It rarely, if ever, is a simple battle of ideas.

It’s a third party in MMP, it’s a GFC or an earthquake or this time a pandemic.

A lot of the time, the deck is stacked either for you or against you.

The trick if you’re looking for blame or blood-letting or renewal or change or rebuilding is to deal realistically with what you can fix and what in all reality was beyond your control.

Jamie Whincup over the weekend at Bathurst, one of the greatest of drivers, made a split second mistake early in the race and hit the wall. It doesn’t make him a bad driver, doesn’t mean he couldn’t have won it, doesn’t mean the team needs to sack anyone.

A bad day is hardly ever the end, perspective is a skill. Sometimes shit happens.