This race just became

“This race just became Luxon’s to lose”

Sunday politics Andrea Vance



Stuff NZ Newspapers


You can tell just how serious National is about the cost of living crisis. Just look at their buffet table – laden with symbolism rather than a lavish spread. Hungry for election victory, the MPs are sticking to message discipline so rigorously that even their caucus retreat lunch breaks are on message. As the television cameras panned over Chris Bishop, deep in conversation with Michael Woodhouse, the campaign chair plucked a single chip from a bowl. Just one salty snack. Voters look, no wasteful spending here. It is a new year diet plan inspired by the kitchen cabinet of the Key years. A slimmed down menu for the John Key-lite era: as inflationary pressure bites, this lean new National party won’t. Of course, it won’t be the catering that Christopher Luxon’s MPs will remember from their caucus away-day lunch. As National nibbled on fruit segments and cheese platters, across town, Jacinda Ardern began the countdown to Labour’s election year Hunger Games. Suddenly, the recipe had changed. With her resignation, Ardern extinguished Labour’s best hope. But she also snuffed out National’s strategy: that oppositions don’t win elections; governments lose them. This race just became Luxon’s to lose. National doesn’t want to recalibrate its campaign. The message stays the same, representing the party’s traditionally perceived strength as stronger economic managers.