Recently the National Party invited MyThinks to their latest strategy meeting entitled, “The Party Strategy Convergency.” Apart from being a grammatical mouthful, this meeting brought together all the bright lights and blue sky thinkers of the election-winning National Party. Followed several hours of meeting, a keynote address was delivered by Sir Archibald Fountain-Penne.
Good afternoon everybody. Thank you all for coming to this strategy convergence. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, what is said in this room, stays in this room.
I can tell you, over the past few hours we’ve listened to all your ideas, ignored them, and I am here now to give you the official National Party talking points when you are confronted by any media questions.
When you are asked by any journalist about any policy the National Party has been in charge of over the past decade, it’s important to use the language of disaster. Our housing issues are now a housing crisis. The challenges we faced in health are now called a health crisis. Any problems in education or the economy are called the education crisis or the economic crisis. Other words you could use are catastrophe, calamity, cataclysm or disaster.
Of course, when National were in government, these words were resisted, and rightly so. The last thing you want is people thinking your running a series of disasters. It’s not nice to be called useless, incompetent, disastrous, dreadful, awful, appalling, horrific, horrifying, horrible, horrendous, atrocious, abominable, abhorrent, frightful, fearful, shocking, hideous, ghastly, grim, dire, hateful, unspeakable, gruesome, monstrous, sickening, heinous, or vile.
The great thing is this: the government is now dealing with all the issues we were dealing with as a result of our own policy errors. That’s not the important thing. The important thing is we sell the idea that this government is failing. Sure they are failing at fixing up the range of messes we left, but that doesn’t matter. Voters are stupid. Why else would Winston still be getting votes? Why would 44% of New Zealanders still be supporting the opposition?
Another thing you can do is suggest we were only “following advice.” This is a great argument. Mainly because it puts the onus for our failures on the bank of faceless public servants. I mean, how were we meant to know? We were only following the very best advice. We are only mere politicians. We can’t be expected to know everything about everything, can we? Of course, the fact we were in charge of the policies that led to the development of the advice we were given does not need to come into it. Just repeat to the journalist you were following advice.
Lastly, if you are new to the portfolio, you can always blame the previous person in charge. This works better than anything else because, more often than not, the former politicians will remain exceedingly quiet on the issue. Who wants to be that former MP making their way in the private sector standing up and admitting to abject failure. That doesn’t look good on the front page of the CV.
Remember, the underside of a bus is best seen by the person you shove beneath it.
Thank you all for listening.