Barry Soper: A positive campaign for a change

Author
Barry Soper,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Thursday, 15 August 2019, 9:07AM
Paula Bennett. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Paula Bennett. Photo / Mark Mitchell

What was National thinking? Paula "zip it sweetie" Bennett as their campaign manager next year is a bit like having a fox guarding the henhouse.

When it comes to zipping it she's never been able to practice what she once preached to Jacinda Ardern. The job of a political campaign manager is a strategic one, requiring the incumbent to work behind the scenes, which is something beyond Bennett's being.

She says she'll be running a positive campaign which for her will make a change.

She certainly wasn't showing it during the last campaign, telling us some people have fewer human rights than others, when defending the increased search powers for the police. That saw the Prime Minister at the time, Bill English, reining her in.

And she, and some of her other senior colleagues, stand accused of trying to wipe New Zealand First and Winston Peters from the political landscape after his pension overpayments were leaked to the media. She vehemently denies she was behind the leak, but it came from National given they were the only ones who knew about it. That'll play out in a courtroom in November where Peters is claiming $1.8 million in damages against the now new campaign manager and the others for breaching his privacy.

Once again Bill English said the details shouldn't have been released.

When she's planning the campaign then she'd do well to write off the prospect of getting Peters on board after it. He reacted to her new appointment with disbelief, asking what qualifications she has to organise the party, accusing them of being amateurs.

But then perhaps that's why she's got the job - she'll be too busy trying to organise them and will be working on the campaign rather than engaging the tongue before the brain's in gear.

Even though she maintains she's not known for dirty politics, she was the one who opened the bedroom during the Jamie Lee Ross affair last year.

And just over a year into office in the Key Government Bennett released the benefit details of two beneficiaries who had criticised the Government's policy of getting rid of the Training Initiative Allowance, leading to complaints about breaches of privacy which end up being taken to the Human Rights Commission.

But to give her the benefit of the doubt, maybe she's turned over a new leaf and certainly the enthusiasm's there even if the reality is questionable. In all seriousness she said her leader Simon Bridges is doing a great job, getting the cut-through they want!

Getting rid of a Government after just one term in office hasn't been done for almost half a century, following the death of the Labour Prime Minister Norman Kirk.

That hasn't dampened Bennett's expectation, declaring "I know we can do this".

Well Ardern's catchcry was "Let's do this," and she did.

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