Comment by Sandeep Singh
The National Party would do well to change their "tactics" as well as their leader when they go into their huddle tonight.
It's not just a freshly minted leader who can rescue National Party's falling stock. The party needs a complete revamp of tactics and strategy in the post-Covid-19 world.
With due respect and compassion for the former leader Todd Muller, who has reportedly undergone a meltdown and needs utmost care and best wishes from one and all, it needs to be emphasised the party needs to pivot on its outlook and worldview.
Ultimately, it is the party's overall offerings in terms of worldviews and policies that bring voter approvals, even when the leaders have a relative absence of unfettered charisma.
The National Party's relative high polling around the lower 40s under a seemingly unpopular leader Simon Bridges for almost two and half years of this parliamentary term is a stark reminder of this fact.
However, that was back when we were living in a pre-Covid-19 world.
It is evident the National Party has not yet come to terms with the changed reality of our Covid-19 infected world, which has rendered many previous tactics redundant and hence increases public disapproval.
The National Party has been trying to pitch hard to a nation about its previous claim to competency and sound economic management skills, which is anyway hugely distracted at the moment.
Currently, we have in New Zealand a public that was mostly initially supremely scared of the deadly prospects of the spread of coronavirus in the country - and now many are equally blissfully jubilant in the Government's success in managing the public health pandemic - and hence too distracted to buy any political chatter.
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The National Party has appeared absolutely unconnected with this changed mood of the nation.
The party seems to have not given serious thought to the challenge of fighting the first-ever elections in the Covid-19 infected world against an historically popular Prime Minister, who has led a largely successful Government effort in managing the public health pandemic.
The new tactic needs the Opposition to demonstrate the need for much more graciousness and altruism than it is currently willing to offer.
Its public posturing on numerous occasions is seriously bereft of any such large-heartedness, which seems not much appreciated by many members of the public.
First and foremost is the repeated attempts in seeking voter attention by chanting about their previous proven success in economic management.
Why should NZ voters take away power from a Government which is doing incredibly well in managing a public health crisis - the here and now - and give it to a party that is claiming to work for reducing public debt somewhere in the distant future?
This is actually a role reversal for the National Party, which has traditionally come across as focused on the here and now and, thereby canvassing for a status quo in every aspect of social, economics and politics of the nation, unlike the Labour Party that is broadly considered as a future-oriented socially progressive party that has a more aspirational goal for future.
The National Party, as of now, is coming across as distracted about a distant future rather than being focused on meeting the needs of safety and security from the deadly virus.
National has lost the plot in recent months.
Now is the opportunity for the party not only to choose a new leader, but also pause for a moment and reflect upon the need for changing their current tactics.
The nation expects from it more than a mere change of leader.
Sandeep Singh is the editor of Auckland-based community newspaper The Indian Weekender. The views expressed are author's alone.