Living the Kiwi Dream? Politics and public opinion in New Zealand

By Lord Ashcroft

Download the full report here

If it seems odd that a British businessman and philanthropist should devote nearly three months to researching and analysing politics and public opinion on the other side of the world, let me explain.

The first reason is that over the years I have been fortunate enough to spend a good deal of time in New Zealand. I have many friends there, and I’m always eager to discover more about this beautiful and remarkable country. I hope this research – encompassing New Zealanders’ attitudes to political and social issues, the economy, their country’s overall direction and its place in the world – will prove valuable to anyone interested in the subject.

The second is that I was keen to see how the dynamics that have shaped recent politics in the UK, the US and Europe, where I have conducted most of my research to date, are making themselves felt in other democracies. As honorary chairman of the International Democrat Union, the global alliance of centre-right political parties, I have a further interest in studying how voters around the world view the challenges and opportunities that face them and the impact this has on political debate.

Third, New Zealand has enjoyed unaccustomed worldwide attention thanks to its response to the covid pandemic, propelling Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the status of an international celebrity. I was intrigued to find out more about her apparent political success and to see whether New Zealanders themselves accord their leader as much reverence as do the pundits overseas – and where this leaves the National Party opposition (more…)

Living the Kiwi Dream?

By Lord Ashcroft

This piece was first published in the New Zealand Herald

Jacinda Ardern was an already familiar figure in Britain by the time she concluded the NZ-UK trade deal with Boris Johnson last week. It’s not often that a New Zealand Prime Minister becomes a global celebrity, but Ardern’s handling of the Covid pandemic put her at the forefront of international politics.

As a pollster, I wanted to find out how far the worldwide praise for Ardern is echoed at home – and as a former Deputy Chairman of the UK Conservatives during their long years in the wilderness, to understand what this means for the National Party opposition.

I found strong support for Ardern’s decision to lockdown “fast and hard”, and appreciation across the political spectrum for her ability to speak for and to the country in a crisis. But after sluggish vaccine rollout and signs that the world is returning to business as usual, an unmistakable feeling of frustration with the Government’s strategy had begun to set in (more…)