Opinion: The Beehive's best, worst and weirdest
Wednesday 16 Dec 2015 9:23 a.m.
3 News political editor Patrick Gower wraps up with the political year by handing out his inaugural Paddy Awards.
Politician of the year: Winston Peters.
Winston Peters drove a bus into Northland and crashed it into John Key's political reputation, doing some serious damage.
This Rocky VI-style victory by Peters actually meddled with National's power, taking not just a seat but a crucial vote in the House, meaning it couldn't pass legislation.
Marks off for Peters because he hasn't actually done anything with the power he has achieved and probably won't.
Runner-up: Bill English.
Bill English is the Conrad Smith of the Government. Steady, stable, keeping formation and very rarely failing defensively.
He climbed the economic Everest and got the surplus, admittedly being forced down from the summit immediately. Has a plan and ideas and uses his power and looks in control of the economic levers.
Commended: Kelvin Davis.
Kelvin Davis had a massive year riding the Serco tsunami. It looked like he didn't know what he was doing at times but it worked out. He played by "prison rules" in Parliament, acting like it was D-Block at Paremoremo and made a name for himself amongst the hardened political crims.
Worst politician: Michael Woodhouse.
He tried to outlaw worm farming as a health and safety risk; he tried to outlaw mini putt too. This is laughing stock stuff, even the Prime Minister called it "worm-gate".
Runner-up: Sam Lotu-Iiga.
Sam got smashed by the Serco tsunami.
Surprise of year: David Seymour
David Seymour took the ACT party from crazy to credible. How did he do that? By saying "coq" in public. All jokes aside this libertarian boy wonder had a big year and turning down the baubles of Ministerial office capped it off.
Runner up: James Shaw.
New Greens co-leader Jimmy Shaw doesn't have a driver's licence but also threw out his political trainer wheels. The Greens stayed out of single figure in polling; Jimmy Shaw looks comfortable in Rusty Norman's old shoes.
Judith Collins - there can be no other. 'Crusher' Collins forced her way out of her own crypt. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Peter Dunne. There can be no other. Dunne's hair has been exactly the same colour and exactly the same style for a number of years now. What is his secret?
Best: Iraq troops decision
Sending troops to war is the hardest decision a Prime Minister will make. John Key got the balance right here - balancing pleasing America, "doing our bit" against the Islamic State and keeping the troops as safe as possible in the non-combat training role. "Going back to Iraq" was politically fraught but the decision was well thought-through and explained. Polling shows the public agree. First-class foreign policy decision-making by the Prime Minister.
Worst equal: "Rapists and Murderers"
John Key said the Government were on the side of Kiwis when actually they had let rapists, murderers and a menagerie of other lowlifes come in scot-free from Australia for nearly a year without so much as taking fingerprints. Too much crim-hugging by the Opposition and media meant the Government weren't called out soon enough.
Worst equal: Labour's Chinese-sounding names.
Labour used an algorithm to launch a racist attack. This really needs no explaining. The principles were poor but the strategic execution even worse. Laughable if it wasn't so sad.
SCORE THE LEADERS
John Key - 7.5/10
A poor score by John Key's standards reflecting a poor year by his standards. The ponytail was plain weird. The rapists and murderers call was average. But Key was sublime at times, particularly on the international stage. Some of the U-turns showed the political radar is switched on. However the housing market in Auckland is out of control despite all the tinkering and poverty remains a huge and structural issue. Key remained frighteningly good at times and still hungry. He will need to be better next year.
Andrew Little - 7/10
Andrew Little stabilised the Labour caucus. Do not underestimate how hard this is - for six years, the three leaders before him failed to do this. Labour's conference went well, so did the reshuffle. He's judged on a different level to the Prime Minister for obvious reasons at this stage but not a bad start. Allowing the racist algorithm attack was plain useless and a failure of leadership. The major worry for Little though is whether he can get cut-through with the punters. He will need to be better next year.