Who is your pick for best and worst politician of 2015?

Read the shortlists then vote in our polls.
  • Read the results for best-performing politician of 2015 here.
  • Vote for the worst-performing politician of 2015 here.


Shortlist for best-performing (in alphabetical order)

Bill English: National’s safe pair of hands finally got a (tiny) surplus in his crosshairs and is at risk of losing his unsung hero status with Stuff and Granny Herald naming him politician of the year. NBR’s Rob Hosking paid tribute to the finance minister’s droll wit, including the recent quip of the year: "Oh, it's not disappointing: it's just another Treasury forecast.” Managed house price policy tension with the Reserve Bank before it spilled beyond the beltway.

Judith Collins: It was a textbook rehabilitation campaign as Kindler, Gentler Crusher kept her loose cannon instincts at bay for a year of measured, contrite and sensible media appearances and commentaries.

Tim Groser: A free trade deal with South Korea and the conclusion of the TPP – defying expectations in some quarters, refusing to give much ground on issues like copyright and big pharma (on the flipside, there was little in the agreement for our largest exporter, Fonterra). Had a buck each way at the Paris Climate Change Conference, supporting new targets but also among those who (successfully) argued for them to be non-binding. 

John Key: Yet another year when National cruised along at the top of the polls and the opposition failed to land any major blows amid a stream of mini-scandals – a feat that’s more remarkable with each passing year and unprecedented deep into a third term. As a bonus, Malcolm Turnbull and the Aussie media fell in love with him. Key is already headed for the history books as one of our most successful politicians ever but how will his policy impact be remembered? So far, his government has followed the usual NZ pattern of a National government carefully managing and tweaking the reforms of the preceding Labour government. His pet legacy project faces problems getting over the line in 2016 as pro-current flag voters ally with those disappointed by the winning alternative design.

Winston Peters: The wily old campaigner outfoxed Andrew Little to get a clean shot at Northland, then ran rings around National to win the byelection. And an increasingly cosy relationship with Shane Jones gave NZ First a potential succession plan. 

David Seymour: ACT’s youthful leader has made a number of shortlists for politician of the year, after a hardworking, high profile 12 months. He’s impressed the chattering classes but the Great New Zealand public still has the phone off the hook; ACT remains within the margin of error in polls – but the groundwork is being laid for a comeback.

Honourable mention: Andrew Little stabilised Labour, which fiinally managed to go 12 months without a leadership coup. But he failed to move the party foward. Kelvin Davis got great cut-through for Labour at times but was undermined when some of the Christmas Island deportees turned out to be less than likeable citizens. Paula Bennett and Amy Adams both deserved their promotions but Bennett is not yet battle-tested, and within Adams' Communications portfolio the UFB and RBI remain disorganised and often dysfunctional at the day-to-day level.

Shortlist for worst-performing (in alphabetical order)

David Carter: The Speaker has proved a poor successor to the even-handed Lockwood Smith, with MPs often getting away with lame non-replies to questions, or boorish behaviour.

Gerry Brownlee: Gerry has looked Grumpy Cat for most of year, and no wonder, with John Key and his lieutenant Steven Joyce manoeuvring to marginalise his influence and downgrade his portfolios. Unlike Judith Collins, he didn’t have the motivation or wherewithal for a fightback.

Sam Lotu-Iiga: The Maungakiekie MP seemed in over his head during the Serco scandal, helping pave the way for Judith Collins to regain Corrections and Police.

Murray McCully: NBR understands health issues prevented the veteran backroom deal-maker from applying his usual spin as the Saudi sheep scandal hit.

Phil Twyford: The Labour MP’s Chinese-sounding surnames jape helped him get promoted in a reshuffle. But it alienated urban liberals without winning support from those with a taste for immigrant bashing – who stayed loyal to the master of dog whistle politics, Winston Peters.

Dishonorable mention: Being outside Parliament, he doesn't apply for the official shortlist, but Colin Craig's colourful implosion was like an article from The Civilian come to life. The there's the sizable missing in action brigade, including Maggie Barry (what is it with National and its succession of MIA MPs for the safe North Shore electorate?), Clayton Cosgrove and Nanaia Mahuta.

Agree/disagree? What are your picks? Let us know in Comments below.

  • Read the results for best-performing politician of 2015 here.
  • Vote for the worst-performing politician of 2015 here.

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