Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

National Axe Looms - Shipley Resigns

by Selwyn Manning

National Party leader Jenny Shipley announced tonight that she would quit her leadership role.

The announcement came after National's deputy leader Bill English informed Shipley that he had the numbers to oust her.

She announced her resignation, soon after.

Speculation has been rife in recent months. It came to a head after died-in-the-wool National Party members were appalled that their leader had "bad mouthed" New Zealand, again while overseas. It reinforced a notion of poor performance of the opposition leader.

Jenny Shipley’s political instincts have often been questioned. The latest incident to raise eyebrows was when Shipley claiming the United States Bush administration was not pleased with New Zealand's degree of commitment in the "war against terrorism".

Speculation intensified in September when the opposition leader was absent during what could accurately be termed the Labour/Alliance Government’s most trying session of Parliament, largely due to the international crisis, and, the near collapse of Air New Zealand.

On returning from her overseas engagements, Jenny Shipley denied that there was any move to oust her from the top Tory job. She re-claimed her intention to lead National through to the General Election in late 2002.

But Shipley's time was passed. She represented and represents a right-leaning faction within National, a group aligned to an ideology that her party embraced through the 1990s.

Friend Ruth Richardson, who was a high-riser within National ranks in the 1980s, lured Shipley into public life. Richardson of course became finance minister on National winning the 1990 General Election, and was the creator of slash and burn budgets – the first of which was 1991’s The Mother of ALL Budgets.

Shipley herself rose above mere ministerial aspirations. She led a successful leadership coup against Jim Bolger in 1997, becoming New Zealand's first woman prime minister.

A short time later the National/New Zealand First coalition disintegrated and Shipley managed to hold on to power with a minority government supported by a handful of former New Zealand First MPs and independents and the ACT party.

The rot set in after Jenny Shipley led National to defeat, losing to Labour leader Helen Clark, in the November 1999 General Election.

Shipley's political career had once burned bright. It took off at a rocket-pace. Known as the "technocrat" Shipley led right-wing reform in the social welfare and health portfolios through the early 1990s. But that approach has fallen largely out of favour both with a public centrist mood and with her own caucus.

Within a right-leaning caucus, Shipley found favour and loyalty. The 1999 General Election brought with is a 'new breed" of National MPs aligned to the more centrist politics of Bill English's "brat pack".

It was evident throughout the early part of this political term, Bill English’s pack held the power in caucus. During Parliament’s question time, it was common for Jenny Shipley to relinquish her customary right to challenge the prime minister on things political, settling often for a trivial question way up the list, or settling for no question at all.

She had failed to rattle Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark in parliament's debating chambers, and it appeared the brat pack were building a shadow cabinet within a caucus.

National’s political pragmatists have known since the last election that Shipley's leadership prevents their party from reclaiming its traditional centre-ground - a patch that is overcrowded but essential for any major party if it is to realistically challenge an incumbent for the treasury benches.

Slowly, but inevitably, Shipley's grim reaper came knocking, advanced in its haste somewhat after she chose to be absent from New Zealand after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, and amid the ongoing crisis over Air New Zealand.

The move to rid National of Shipley gained ground after new president Michelle Boag took official office. She made claim to supporting a rejuvenated National Party. Although Boag denied she wished for a leadership change. She did demand a "better performance" from National MPs.

National Members of Parliament will vote in a caucus meeting tomorrow on their new leader - Bill English will obviously be the man.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Binoy Kampmark: The Major Questions Doctrine: The US Supreme Court Blunts The EPA
The US Supreme Court has been frantically busy of late, striking down law and legislation with an almost crazed, ideological enthusiasm. Gun laws have been invalidated; Roe v Wade and constitutional abortion rights, confined to history. And now, the Environmental Protection Agency has been clipped of its powers in a 6-3 decision.
The June 30 decision of West Virginia v Environmental Protection Agency was something of a shadow boxing act... More>>


Ian Powell: Are we happy living in Handy's Age of Unreason?

On 19 June the Sunday Star Times published my column on the relationship between the Labour government’s stewardship of Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system and the outcome of the next general election expected to be around September-October 2023: Is the health system an electoral sword of Damocles for Labour... More>>


The First Attack On The Independents: Albanese Hobbles The Crossbench
It did not take long for the new Australian Labor government to flex its muscle foolishly in response to the large crossbench of independents and small party members of Parliament. Despite promising a new age of transparency and accountability after the election of May 21, one of the first notable acts of the Albanese government was to attack the very people who gave voice to that movement. Dangerously, old party rule, however slim, is again found boneheaded and wanting... More>>


Dunne Speaks: Roe V. Wade Blindsides National

Momentum is everything in politics, but it is very fragile. There are times when unexpected actions can produce big shifts and changes in the political landscape. In 2017, for example, the Labour Party appeared headed for another hefty defeat in that year’s election until the abrupt decision of its then leader to step aside just weeks before the election. That decision changed the political landscape and set in train the events which led to Labour being anointed by New Zealand First to form a coalition government just a few weeks later... More>>

Digitl: Infrastructure Commission wants digital strategy
Earlier this month Te Waihanga, New Zealand’s infrastructure commission, tabled its first Infrastructure Strategy: Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa. Te Waihanga describes its document as a road map for a thriving New Zealand... More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Leaking For Roe V Wade
The US Supreme Court Chief Justice was furious. For the first time in history, the raw judicial process of one of the most powerful, and opaque arms of government, had been exposed via media – at least in preliminary form. It resembled, in no negligible way, the publication by WikiLeaks of various drafts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership... More>>