They're only human

There is Jenny Shipley in an ad telling us she made a mistake! And “brat pack” whiz Bill English likewise! What’s National playing at?

Human — they’re human like you and me. We all make mistakes; they underestimated the Asian crisis and the drought. Mrs Shipley, stern school-marm, has been airbrushed into Jenny, sweet, smiling mumsie-pie.

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Convertables

Convertibles — that is what the next four weeks are about: prising votes out from “undecideds” or stealing from rivals. So far only ACT of the main five is in full missionary mode, though Labour yesterday moved up a gear.

Minnows have no choice but to go after convertibles. Give United 400 votes an electorate, said Peter Dunne in his television opening on Saturday night, and his “little guy” party would have two MPs to interpose “caring commonsense” between the Labour/Alliance and National/ACT blocks.

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English, the new conservative

For a Minister of Finance Bill English is offbeat. Last week he was an honoured officiator at the launch of South Seas Healthcare, a clinic run by Pacific Islander GPs. When he speaks to business groups he belabours them with social policy. What gives with this man?

Mr English is new National, that’s what, refashioning the old party before our eyes. After its long post-1945 period of liberal-conservatism epitomised by Sir John Marshall, its dodge into rank populism under Sir Robert Muldoon and its radical diversion with Ruth Richardson, Mr English’s National is redefining conservatism.

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