With the polls on a knife edge, I believe the TV debates between Chippy and Luxon will be more important than ever.
First let’s acknowledge the awkwardness of debates where it is just the two leaders of the 2 big parties. While many of the networks will attempt debates with all the Leaders, it’s never in National or Labour’s interests to appear on those debates so they are far and few in between.
There will be set debates between the two and they usually attract enormous audiences.
With the don’t know at 15% of the electorate, there is everything to fight for in these debates.
Luxon has the most to win and Chippy has the most to lose and they should be in debate prep now, but my guess is neither Party have their Election Policies realised yet limiting their debate training potential.
In the Blue Corner:
Luxon seems to agree to anything anyone asks him which requires him doing a u-turn 24 hours later. This is sold as ‘endearing’ because he’s ‘not a politician’. To everyone else it looks confused and incompetent and you fret a bit that he was running Air NZ while you were flying on it once.
But because the bar is so low for Luxon, if he actually dazzles during the debates, it could be the winner of the election. There have been times when he has actually sounded passionate and invested in NZ progressing, unfortunately he’s only ever sounded that way when he wants to cut benefits from disabled teenagers on welfare, military boot camps for kids and putting ankle bracelets on 10 year olds.
Chris seems to take ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ literally.
But if he can surprise NZ with a passionate moment, he can turn a moment into a defining election event.
So, Luxon is fighting for his political career, because he is goneburger if he doesn’t beat Labour this year. National tolerate many things, a rigged capitalism for their mates, obscene profits for Banks, sexual attraction towards Landlords and a fetish for punishment, but they WILL NOT tolerate losers.
In the Red Corner:
Cut beyond the Chippy from the Hutt routine and look at Chris Hipkins for the cold hearted political killer that he is.
Over the years of watching him and talking to him I think there are 3 sides to Chippy.
There is the behind the scenes interaction and management style with his staff and colleagues that is actually almost magical. He is incredibly kind and deferential to all his colleagues and is a leader who draws out the best from his people and empowers them to step up and perform rather than push and dictate to. Expect a phenomenal loyalty to him from the Caucus and a very tight ship.
Then there is the Chippy who loves sausage rolls, Chippy from the Hutt, spread your legs, sausage roll loving, dorky competence, affable and lover of sausage rolls Chris Hipkins who you trust with your best interests at heart.
And then there is the Political Assassin Chris Hipkins who is the person the Party gets to go out and do political knee-capping. He has been the wielder of Labour’s sword many times because beyond the publicly affable and privately differential, Chris is a hard hitting pocket battleship.
The difference between Chippy and Jacinda, is Chippy will throw a punch.
Who will win?:
Luxon has a chance, and in an election this close, it could be the magical moment that propels National into the lead.
So you can’t rule it out and that’s what makes the Debates so fascinating.
Chris Hipkins is a high ranking Left Wing Jedi Knight. He’s Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter and a fully automatic machine gun all rolled into one. He will eviscerate Luxon with a level of detail that sounds spookily like Helen Clarke with the knockout wit power of David Lange while authentically connecting to the middle emotionally like Jacinda.
Chippy ain’t no chump and if National walk into this trying to debate Chris Hipkins, they will lose. Luxon’s only chance is to talk to the audience and connect with them emotionally NOT debate with Hipkins because he will get whipped.
Luxon has never been punched in the face and he has a political glass jaw, if Chippy unleashes, he will go down in the first round and that will resinate with the huge viewing audience.
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