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Plain English - Weekly Update Monday, 12 August

PLAIN ENGLISH - A WEEKLY UPDATE FROM BILL ENGLISH, NATIONAL PARTY LEADER

THANKS

Thank you to all the people who supported National in the privacy of the ballot box, and who have offered me personal support in the last two weeks. It is much appreciated. Now the dust has settled and the advice pours in. Keep it coming. The advice of people who voted for us and against us is remarkably consistent. I have tried to reply to as many of you as I can but with the sheer volume I will unfortunately miss some.

THE STATE OF NATIONAL

After some post election outbursts, the caucus is now showing it will be a disciplined, committed team. Though smaller, like the party they are in better shape after this election than the last one, when we had no idea what it meant to be in opposition. National's organisational rebuilding started 12 months ago, attracting new people, more skills and better funding. We ran more active campaigns on the ground than we have for several elections, so the election result was a hit on the way up. Far from being dispirited, our activists are determined to prove a point next time round.

GOING TO THE PARTY

Every campaign team will be visited by a group of MPs in the next few weeks to listen to their views on everything from the campaign itself to future direction. I will be around the country talking to party supporters over the next few months. We have had a surge of interest from National supporters in becoming more active. I am keen to use all the talent available to ensure a National-led Government next time, inside and outside the party. However, a bit of old fashioned politics like joining up and paying up still makes a big difference. Membership rose by 25% in the last 12 months. You can join on http://www.national.org.nz

THE NEW GOVERNMENT

Peter Dunne appears to have given away a lot in return for very little. His supporters will expect more and in a few months time they will understand better just how much leverage they have. It's hard to know what impact the agreement will have, because Labour have no programme for the next 3 years.

We will be looking to work with United Future on issues where we have views in common, because they are free to oppose the Government except on confidence and supply.

LEFT RIGHT CROSS

Whatever the details on paper, there is a cultural gulf between Labour and United Future, bridged only by its leader. The Labour caucus has already shown its displeasure about the company it will be keeping. United Future MPs will come under pressure from lobby groups to use their influence on a range of issues anathema to Labour. The Greens and Labour, who actually agree on most things will meanwhile beat each other around as only the left can. The price of stability in this environment will be a Government doing very little, precisely the wrong response to the challenges for New Zealand.

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