SWOTing the parties
Rather than the usual review of the week in politics, today I'm going to do a look at the year ahead and apply that wonderfully abused business tool of SWOT analysis to our political parties.
Strengths: Peter Dunne is trusted not to rock the boat, is an experienced and competent Minister.
Weaknesses: UFNZ has been reduced to just one MP, New Zealanders do not like the transfer of support from Labour to National even though this is how MMP works.
Opportunities: For Peter Dunne to secure a reputation as an MP who understood how MMP works, and helped contribute to stable government.
Threats: Losing his Ohariu seat in 2011 after the majority got decimated in 2008.
Strengths: Jim Anderton. Well respected for his job as Agriculture Minister.
Weaknesses: No brand outside Anderton and no real differentiation from Labour.
Opportunities: To reunite his party back into Labour. If they are to continue as a seperate party, replace Matt Robson as Deputy Leader with Josie Pagani.
Threats: Jim is 73 at the next election and it is far from guaranteed that Progressives would retain his seat if he retires or expires.
Strengths: Are now seen as viable long-term, Rodney's hold on Epsom.
Weaknesses: Still not entirely trusted by many Nats, possible inability of some MPs to accept compromises necessary in MMP.
Opportunities: To secure ACT as a permament party of the right, to take credit for cuts in bureaucracy, to reform Auckland's local government.
Threats: Relationships between ACT and National ministers gets frayed, possibility ACT feels they play second fiddle to Maori Party, how the review of the Emissions Trading Scheme is handled
Strengths: Pita Sharples, John Key (his goodwill to them), the fact they can sell the deal with National as a choice between doing something and doing nothing. Massive majorities for four of the five MPs.
Weaknesses: Hone Harawira's mouth, the fact they only got five out of seven seats, being in government during a recession.
Opportunities: To make some gains, both symbolic and substantial, for Maori. To become the main "king maker" in Parliament, to see most remaining major Treaty claims settled.
Threats: Labour will try and wedge them away from National through private members bills. Their supporters blames them for not alleviating the recession more.
Strengths: A larger Caucus, Jeanette Fitzsimons, a clear brand, Phil Goff (doesn't appeal to Green/left voters as much as Clark)
Weaknesses: Possible irrelevance in opposition, fading of climate change as a priority to the global recession, extremism with some MPs
Opportunities: To gain "left" support from Labour as Goff goes more centrist. To get some gains from the Government despite no formal agreement, to replace Jeanette Fitzsimons with Metira Turei.
Threats: Could struggle to differentiate from Labour on most issues. If they drop below 5% next election they get wiped out. Temperatures drop.
Strengths: 13 new MPs, Goff and King are safe pair of hands, Cunliffe is credible in finance, economic recession may cut Government honeymoon short.
Weaknesses: Recession may make it impossible for Labour to credibily promise more spending than National. Goff can come across as very whiney. Brand still associated with Nanny State.
Opportunities: To blame all the job losses on National not doing enough. To change its brand away from Nanny State. To position Goff as a long-term Leader not an interim Leader. To win some of the Maori seats back off the Maori Party. To utilise some of their talented new intake.
Threats: Despite a solid performance, Caucus may get uneasy about going into 2011 election with a leader who entered Parliament when Muldoon was Prime Minister. Public may not want to hear from them in 2009. They may get blamed as much as National for job losses from recession.
Strengths: John Key. Can pass laws with ACT or Maori Party. Talented and ambitious backbench who can replace Ministers who do not perform.
Weaknesses: Takes office during worst economic conditions since 1930s Great Depression. Some new Ministers may prove to be easy targets for the Opposition. Relations with ACT somewhat strained (not with Key/Hide but elsewhere). Very limited ability to spend more money if pressures in health and education demand it.
Opportunities: To keep their promises and finally bury the untrustworthy brand of the 1990s. To forge a long-term relationship with the Maori Party. Key actually drops non-performing Ministers, differentiating himself from Clark. To get credit for steering NZ through recession with less damage than expected. To blame lots of things on Labour.
Threats: The economy gets even worse than the worst case scenario. National blamed for "not doing enough." John Key turns into a clone of Helen Clark – the micro-managing PM with a view on everything – but with a smile. Keeping both ACT and Maori Party happy proves too hard.