This article by Jared Phillips and Josh Glue is concerned with characterising the type of National Party that is in government today. Originally published in the October issue of The Spark.
In a 2007 Agenda interview with then-new National Party leader John Key, Lisa Owen asked him about the difference in leadership style between himself and his predecessor, now-Act leader, Don Brash. Key’s reply was:
Well I think leadership’s always a very personal thing, it’s the way that you approach the issues, the image that you put off, the things that maybe you want to discuss, I mean fundamentally Don and I share the same view which is that we think New Zealand under-performs and we think that the future can be much brighter with a National government with the policies that we want to invoke, so I don’t think our fundamental aim was different, we may choose to focus on - in the very short term some different issues and you’ve possibly seen that in my approach since I’ve taken over as the leader.
This is an interesting reply as it draws out one of the key issues surrounding the nature of the National Party. Is National fundamentally a neo-liberal party, playing a strong public relations (PR) game, with the Act party playing a role as its most neo-liberal flank? Or is National a centrist party eager not to alienate its apparent support from echelons of the working class?