Alice Snedden: Keep up the good work, Bill English, Labour thanks you
OPINION: This election season, I would like to give thanks for Bill English and everything he is doing for the Labour Party.
It's not often I get an opportunity to be truly grateful to a leader of the National Party, but thanks to his hard work and determination, Labour continues to rise in popularity*. Normally, I'd be wildly criticising Labour (you're hardest on the ones you love) for not making a dent in National's otherwise indestructible public image. I'd be calling for them to poke holes in National's policy, expose their cronyism, and show the public that they're un-relatable and out of touch. Fortunately, I don't have to, because National are doing it all by themselves, leaving Labour to do what they do best (watch TV?).
At the helm of this collapse is their fearful leader Bill English. When John Key resigned to spend more time with his knighthood, Bill English got handed a winning team. One that could take him all the way. All he had to do what kick the ball into the open goal and win the game. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your income bracket, he continues to successfully score exclusively own goals.
The Todd Barclay scandal is just the most recent cherry on top.
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For months now I've enjoyed the giving tree that is Bill English's social media presence. I assume the point of his social media presence is to make him seem like he's just an ordinary guy, one you could get a beer with after work. He's the Pinocchio of politics; always trying to prove to the public that he's a real boy. But the harder he tries to seem normal, the more he seems like the New Zealand's new stepdad who keeps trying too hard to win us over and just doesn't get that we need space. He's awkward and hard to watch.
Maybe it's because being a public figure isn't actually his strength. His strength is numbers and telephone conversations where people can't see his face.
His continued efforts to seem like one of us are not happening by accident. Whoever is running the National Party campaign has clearly decided that Bill English is not your fun loving, drunk uncle, John Key type. And they're right. He couldn't be further from that.
While the public loved John Key humiliating himself on commercial radio, they are not as wooed by Bill English's "run-walks" (he came up with the name himself!) You can find exclusive coverage of these "run-walks" on his Facebook page. Check them out if you want to find out exactly a "run-walk" looks like. Spoiler, a run walk is where you run for a bit and then you walk.
It's not all bad. His spaghetti pizza was a worldwide sensation and honestly it's nice for New Zealand leaders to make international news. Even if it's no longer for taking a stand against nuclear power, and now is just for our Prime Minister clearly cooking for the first time. That pizza is really an example of what Bill does best. He was given something people thought it was impossible to ruin and yet he defied all expectations by completely destroying it.
His most recent contribution was his reaction to Omega Louis Vuitton Emirates [insert other luxury brands here] Team New Zealand winning the America's Cup. Watching him be as enthusiastic as possible broke my heart. It just doesn't come naturally to him. He looked like I do whenever I get given body wash for Christmas; I'm putting on a show, but I'm dead behind the eyes.
I wish he would just stop, but the part of me that wants Labour to win hopes that he doesn't. His public persona is disingenuous and it lacks authenticity. In many ways I guess that makes him the perfect leader of the National Party. I just hope people see through it.
*This statement is based on instinct alone, but my instincts alone have predicted the pregnancies of three friends and that Peter Andre would only have one big hit. They also predicted Hillary would win. So highs and lows, I guess.
- Sunday Star Times