English rated top performer

Bill English.
Bill English.
Clutha-Southland MP and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English has been named as the Trans Tasman 2013 politician of the year, seeing off Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Trans Tasman, a weekly political newsletter, publishes an annual roll call, rating how each of the MPs performed during the year.

This year's was the ninth report.

Main Report editor-in-chief Max Bowden said the one ministerial performance which stood out during the year was that of Mr English.

He was not only restoring the Crown accounts to surplus but had also got the economy ''set to fly''.

''He does more than his share of the heavy hitting on policy.

"He's driven reform in the state sector, to use resources more effectively and deliver higher quality services. In the House, he's become a commanding performer, blunting Opposition attacks.''

He and Mr Key made a formidable team, Mr Bowden said.

With Mr English's intellectual grunt complementing Mr Key's instinctive political ''feel'', he was the ideal deputy.

He harboured no ambition for the top job but stood his ground when he believed he was right - as he did when the prime minister wanted to override the independence of the Reserve Bank applying its loan-to-value rules to first-home buyers.

Mr Bowden said it was a year in which some MPs managed to get more than their fair share of attention - not for all the right reasons.

United Future leader Peter Dunne lost his ministerial portfolio and, for a while, his party after some serious brain fades.

He would stand again in Ohariu and despite all the trauma, he could hold it - with some help from National.

''Loses points for appalling judgement calls but we think he'll be back.''

His score fell from 6.5 to 4.

Act New Zealand leader John Banks pushed charter schools through the House but became a media magnet for all the wrong reasons.

Mr Banks was a huge political liability for National, with Mr Key forced to defend him. His score rose from 0 to 1.

Mr Cunliffe's score jumped from 4.5 to 7.5. Due to changes in Labour's rules, he managed to pull off the unthinkable and become leader despite many in caucus not wanting him. He had the potential to be the next prime minister but would only get one shot.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was still at the top of his game but was starting to suffer from ''grumpy old man syndrome''.

His rating was unchanged on 7.

Colin James does this sort of thing much better

The bias of Trans Tasman's ratings system for NZ politicians can hardly come as a surprise. A look at the online publication shows that it provides the business community with factoids, the digestion of which should not cut into a busy day of wheeling and dealing. The editor's blurb reassures readers that getting at the truth is quick and painless: "Our writing style enables fast reading, ensuring you can find essential facts quickly and easily."

But the more amusing thing about TT's rating of MPs is the interchangeability of some of the comments. It reveals how arbitrary this kind of opinion writing really is. For example, the comment on Green MP, Gareth Hughes, could have been written for John Key: "Fails to see there are other perspectives or ever contemplates the thought he may be wrong." And does anyone think Mojo Mathers didn't mistakenly end up with the comment that was actually written for Steven Joyce? "Clever and sharp, but not much else to offer."

For a more insightful commentary on national politics, readers would be better advised to see Colin James' article in today's ODT. 

Set to fly?

It's good to know the economy is "set to fly". Certainly the food banks had a bumper year (http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/282441/scramble-provide-food) - a 31% percent increase in demand and waged families joining the party! If it was "set to sink" any further we'd be preparing to descend the Kermadec trench in a bathysphere.

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