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Mike's Minute: Luxon's leadership called into question, but he has time

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Feb 2023, 9:49AM

Mike's Minute: Luxon's leadership called into question, but he has time

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Feb 2023, 9:49AM

Little did I know when I raised the Christopher Luxon issue the other day how quickly the critics would strike.

I suggested that Luxon has a few months yet to sort things out in terms of his own personal numbers in the polls before the chatter would start. Because once the chatter starts, it becomes a conversation and once it becomes a conversation it may well become the narrative and once it becomes the narrative, the nervous start to panic.

Could Bryce Edwards have been listening? Because, lo-and-behold, he hits the media yesterday with what will be an opening stanza of sorts

The headline was that Luxon's leadership is under threat.

Is it? From who?

Bryce's argument is that National will be desperate to avoid the mess of 2020 where we had Simon Bridges followed by Todd Muller and others and in this statement, he is correct.

But we aren't at that point or anywhere close to it.

He argues National will currently be working out whether a move needs to be made against Luxon.

Really? Are they? He doesn't say what he bases this on.

He cites the success of the Andrew Little and Jacinda Ardern switch seven weeks out from polling in 2017, in other words you could put Nicola Willis in and still be in the race.

What he forgets is it wasn’t successful. Labour came a distant second and they only got to power because of Winston hating Bill English so he gave Jacinda the nod by default.

He says all recent polls have shown support for National declining - on that he is wrong.

The Talbot Mills poll four days back, Labour's own pollsters had National on 36% and Labour 33%. So he's not just wrong but given National lead it's hardly reason for a leadership change.

He says if by Easter things aren’t better they will need to move on. That’s subjective and he is entitled to his view.

His view is also that Hipkins has made an "amazingly successful" start. I'm not sure, because he's made a good start but a lot of it involves weather so it's not really his doing.

And in getting rid of policy he thought was brilliant a month back, my thinking is many voters with brains will see through that.

But in saying that, this is the narrative Labour will have been praying for.

My observation of Bryce over the years is he is like a lot of academics - closer to Labour than the other parties so you might dismiss what he has to say.

But what I also know from observation over the years is it doesn’t take much to spark the conversation. And it appears to have started.

My thinking is Luxon still has plenty of room to move and time to manoeuvre in.

But where Bryce is right; is the clock is ticking. Given the mess that is Labour and the record being as bad as it is, Luxon should be doing better.

The ball is in his court.    

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